Australasian Science: Australia's authority on science since 1938

Extraordinary 'missing link' fossil fish found in China

By John Long

Discovery gives us powerful new insights about the building of the human body plan, which began seriously with these ancient fossil fishes.

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.

A spectacular new “missing link” fossil has been unearthed in China. The 419 million year old armoured fish, called Entelognathus, meaning “complete jaw” solves an age-old debate in science. For palaeontologists this fish is as big as finding the Higgs-Boson particle because of its immense significance to our understanding of early vertebrate evolution.

This is arguably one of the most exciting fossil discoveries in the past century since Archaeopteryx, the first fossil to bridge the gap between dinosaurs and birds.

Lead author on the study, Zhu Min of the Institute of Vertebrate Palaeontology and Palaeoanthropology in Beijing, said when I spoke to him:

Wow, it is beyond our wildest expectation if we stick to the available phylogenetic scenario. But the fossils provide evidence to force us to have a reconsideration on the hypothesis.

So what is this hypothesis he refers to? For decades there has been heated debate among scientists as to which early back-boned fishes were ancestral to modern fishes. Living jawed fishes fall into two major groups: sharks, rays and chimaerids (...

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.