Fish fossils found in China include the oldest teeth ever discovered




  • In Business
  • 2022-09-30 14:22:44Z
  • By USA TODAY

Paleontologists unearthed fish teeth that are 14 million years older than any other teeth found from any species - and the discovery could rewrite our understanding of early evolution.

Four studies published Wednesday in the peer-reviewed journal Nature detailed research on a trove of fish fossils that were found in China in 2019 and included illustrations of never-before-seen species. The findings, which could help trace the origin of jaws, suggest jawed fish are tens of millions of years older than had been known and shed light on an era from which there are very few fossils to study.

Found among the wide range of "superbly" preserved fossils was the whole body of a jawless fish, a rare find that offers clues to how ancient fins evolved into limbs. A boomerang-shaped fish was the most common fossil found in the two deposits, Erik Ahlberg of Sweden's Uppsala University, an author of one of the studies, told The Associated Press.

This illustration provided by Heming Zhang in September 2022 depicts some of the fossil fish, more than 400 million years old, which were found by researchers in southern China, announced in a series of studies published in the journal Nature on Wednesday, Sept.
This illustration provided by Heming Zhang in September 2022 depicts some of the fossil fish, more than 400 million years old, which were found by researchers in southern China, announced in a series of studies published in the journal Nature on Wednesday, Sept.  
This illustration provided by Heming Zhang in September 2022 depicts Shenacanthus vermiformis, one of the fossil fish, more than 400 million years old, which were found by researchers in southern China, announced in a series of studies published in the journal Nature on Wednesday, Sept.
This illustration provided by Heming Zhang in September 2022 depicts Shenacanthus vermiformis, one of the fossil fish, more than 400 million years old, which were found by researchers in southern China, announced in a series of studies published in the journal Nature on Wednesday, Sept.  

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Scientists believe fish evolved to have teeth and jaws during the Silurian period more than 400 million years ago. With a set of chompers, fish ditched their former fellow bottom feeders to be hunters of prey. Millions of years ago, these jawed fish crawled out of the seas and paved the way for the vertebrates we see on land today.

See what these ancient creatures looked like, according to scientists. 

This illustration provided by Heming Zhang in September 2022 depicts Xiushanosteus mirabilis, one of the fossil fish, more than 400 million years old, which were found by researchers in southern China.
This illustration provided by Heming Zhang in September 2022 depicts Xiushanosteus mirabilis, one of the fossil fish, more than 400 million years old, which were found by researchers in southern China.  
This illustration provided by Heming Zhang in September 2022 depicts Qianodus duplicis, one of the fossil fish, more than 400 million years old.
This illustration provided by Heming Zhang in September 2022 depicts Qianodus duplicis, one of the fossil fish, more than 400 million years old.  
This illustration provided by Heming Zhang in September 2022 depicts Fanjingshania renovata, one of the fossil fish, more than 400 million years old.
This illustration provided by Heming Zhang in September 2022 depicts Fanjingshania renovata, one of the fossil fish, more than 400 million years old.  
This illustration provided by Heming Zhang in September 2022 depicts Tujiaaspis vividus, one of the fossil fish, more than 400 million years old.
This illustration provided by Heming Zhang in September 2022 depicts Tujiaaspis vividus, one of the fossil fish, more than 400 million years old.  

Camille Fine is a trending visual producer on USA TODAY's NOW team. 

Contributing: The Associated Press

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Ancient fossilized fish found in China help trace the origin of jaws

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