Arctic fish fossil quite a find
It was a lumbering, wide-headed creature with tiny, close-set eyes, and it likely had to wait on a stream bottom for its prey to swim within reach. But when that happened, watch out! One powerful chomp, with fangs up to 1 1/2 inches long … .
Rest assured that this scenario comes from the distant past — 375 million years ago, more or less — but a team of scientists from Philadelphia, Harvard and Chicago breathed new life into it earlier this month.
They announced the discovery of this 6-foot-long prehistoric predator found in a harsh rockscape 700 miles north of the Arctic Circle. Dubbed Laccognathus embryi, it was among various kinds of fish that had developed bony, muscular “lobed” fins — the precursors of limbs.
The team included paleontologists Jason P. Downs and Ted Daeschler from the Academy of Natural Sciences in Philadelphia, along with Harvard University’s Farish A. Jenkins Jr. and the University of Chicago’s Neil Shubin, who have been studying these kinds of creatures for years.
Mr. Daeschler, Mr. Jenkins and Mr. Shubin are best known for their 2006 discovery of another ancient fish, Tiktaalik roseae, which had a very unfishlike neck and limb-like fins that may have allowed it to creep onto land for brief periods.