China-Fish Fossil -- Discovery of fossil inspires research on evolution
China Central Television (CCTV) - A global paleontology team lead by a Chinese scientist discovered an ancient armored fish fossil, dated at about 420 million years. The entelognathus fossil may belong to the earliest creature with a recognizable jaw.
The 20-centimeter-long fossil, found in China's southwestern Yunnan Province in 2010, has a jaw resembling that of humans'.
This is significant because the evolution of jaws is one of the key episodes in the evolution of vertebrates. The gap between jawed and jawless vertebrates is so large that it is hard to work out the individual evolutionary steps in the transition.
The entelognathus, thought to be the ancestor of modern fish, has the same facial features as all living fish, with the same body shape as placoderms.
"We have always thought that the skeletal systems between placoderms and modern fish are totally different and have no connections. But the discovery of the entelognathus, like the intermediary, linked the two seemingly irrelevant systems," said Zhu Min, a researcher at the Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology, Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS).
The finding, published online September 25 in 'Nature', provides compelling evidence for the evolutionary link between placoderms and osteichthyans, and adjusts man's understanding of early gnathostome evolution, according to CAS.
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