380 million year old hearts of stone

Of the ten gogo fish fossils discovered in Australia, only four have so far been reconstructed. Curtin University/via REUTERS

STORY – Exceptional fossils passed under the X-rays of the Grenoble synchrotron in 2011 finally reveal their secrets.

These hearts were beating 380 million years ago. It is now difficult to differentiate them with the naked eye from the rocks in which they are locked up and have survived geological times. Discovered in northern Australia, they are the oldest vertebrate hearts ever unearthed. Passed under the powerful X-rays of the Grenoble synchrotron in 2011, they deliver after more than ten years of study their first secrets, allowing a better understanding of key stages in the evolution of vertebrates (ScienceSeptember 15, 2022).

These hearts have been discovered in gogo fish fossils. These animals measuring about forty centimeters populated the waters of the Devonian, a period which spans between 420 and 372 million years when life is just beginning to colonize the earth, but most of the biodiversity is found in the oceans. These are the earliest representatives of a class of prehistoric fish covered with bony plates – called placoderms – which were the form…

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