Credit By: EurekAlert!
An extinct lobe-finned fish species, characterized by its sleek appearance, large canines, and bony scales, dating back to the Middle-Late Devonian period, approximately 380 million years ago, has been unearthed in Australia.
Habitat and Environment
This predatory aquatic creature thrived in what is now modern-day Australia during a time when rivers flowed over areas that are now dry land, as reported by Interesting Engineering.
Discovery and Naming
The newly discovered fish species has been named Harajicadectes zhumini by palaeontologists from Flinders University. The fossilized remains were unearthed at the Harajica Sandstone Member, a remote fossil site located over 200 kilometres west of Alice Springs in Australia’s Northern Territory.
Size and Characteristics
Based on the fossilized bones, scientists estimate that adult specimens of this species could reach a maximum size of 40 cm.
Unique Biological Features
The recently discovered species belongs to the ancient Tetrapodomorph lineage and exhibits distinct biological characteristics. During examination, scientists observed large holes in the upper part of the specimen’s skull.
These holes, referred to as spiracular structures, are believed to have facilitated surface air-breathing. Similar structures are found in modern-day African bichir fish, enabling them to take in air at the water’s surface. This feature is present in multiple Tetrapodomorph lineages during the Middle-Late Devonian period.
Comparison with Other Species
Several other extinct lobe-finned fish species, including Gogonasus from Western Australia, have been found to possess similar spiracular structures. Another unrelated ray-finned fish species called Pickeringius, discovered in 2018 in Western Australia, also exhibits this unique feature.
The discovery of Harajicadectes zhumini adds to our understanding of ancient aquatic ecosystems and the evolution of air-breathing adaptations in fish during the Devonian period.
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