Australia: an extremely rare discovery enchants paleontologists

Uunusual discovery. Nothing less. On September 15, Australian paleontologists described an exceptional discovery in the specialized journal Science. A few weeks earlier, they had discovered arthrodires, a kind of fish whose order died out several hundred million years ago. Beyond the fact that the fossils belong to one of the first known vertebrates on Earth, the fossils still contain the “soft tissues” of the specimens, in other words their organs: heart, liver, stomach or intestines, for example. As if that were not enough, these fossils are among the oldest ever discovered by man.

An unprecedented discovery which welcomes the researchers mobilized on the study of fossils. “For the first time, we can observe all the organs of a jawed vertebrate. The heart of these fish is in their mouths and under their gills, just like today’s sharks,” Kate Trinajstic told the magazine. Australian Geographic. Moreover, thanks to modern technologies, it will not be necessary to break the fossils to observe the interior of the discovered pieces.

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Research to better understand modern sharks and fish

It must be realized that from a scientific point of view, this discovery is a virtual upheaval. According to the results of the researchers’ analyses, we could now know how the heads of the first vertebrates were able to adapt to the appearance of jaws, something that is still unknown. Especially since the examination of these fossils could make it possible to learn more about a species that is still very much alive: sharks! The possibility, with these fossils, of examining the internal organs of arthrodires could make it possible to understand how modern sharks manage to maintain their buoyancy thanks to their imposing liver.

Another line of research is the lungs of modern bony fish. “We found no evidence for the existence of lungs in the placoderms we examined, suggesting that they evolved independently from bony fish at a later date,” she explains. Will these fossils allow us to lift the veil? Only the future will tell us.

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