An interesting little high-speed video of a red bay snook, having a snack.
New fossil discoveries by paleontologist Per Ahlberg are filling in more of the gaps in our knowledge of the transition from sea creatures to land-dwelling vertebrates: Fossil Helps Document Shift From Sea To Land.
New fossils of an ancient, four-limbed creature help fill in the blanks of the evolutionary transition between fish and the first land-adapted vertebrates.
Fossils of creatures that span the water-to-land transition of vertebrates are few and far between. One of those pioneers, Ventastega curonica, was first described in 1994 but previously has been known only from fragmentary remains unearthed from 365-million-year-old rocks at a site in western Latvia. Fossils found at the site during subsequent excavations now allow scientists to more fully reconstruct the creature, says Per Ahlberg, a paleontologist at Uppsala University in Sweden.
The new remains — including most of the creature’s skull, the braincase, half of the bones in its forelimb and a quarter of its pelvic girdle — suggest that Ventastega was an evolutionary intermediate between Tiktaalik, a four-limbed fish that lived about 382 million years ago (SN: 6/17/06, p. 379), and subsequent tetrapods such as Acanthostega, which were capable of walking on land.
The size and proportions of the new fossils hint that Ventastega probably measured between 1 and 1.3 meters in length. Most features of the creature’s skull match those of Tiktaalik, which lived millions of years earlier, but the overall shape of the skull and braincase “is characteristically ‘early tetrapod,’” Ahlberg says. Likewise, the creature’s lower jawbone was shaped like that of early tetrapods but was adorned with fangs like those found in its fishy predecessors, he notes. “Ventastega was a mosaic of features.”
Ventastega lived approximately during the same era as Acanthostega, but its features were more primitive, a sign that Ventastega may have been an evolutionary holdover, Ahlberg says. Nevertheless, the size and shape of Ventastega’s limb bones, particularly those of its forelimbs, suggest that the creature’s limbs ended in digits, not fins.
From an earlier article, here’s a chart illustrating the processes that are documented in these fossils discovered by Ahlberg:
An extraordinary fossil discovery in Australia reveals a fish with live offspring attached by an umbilical cord—dating to 380 million years ago, making it the oldest example of vertebrate live birth on record. Scientists at the Museum of Victoria have dubbed her Materpiscis attenboroughi, or “mother fish.”
Here’s the Museum Victoria news release page on this discovery, with some interesting videos.
Today the team announced its latest discovery: a remarkable 380 million year old fossil placoderm fish with intact embryo and mineralised umbilical cord.
The discovery, published in Nature and one of the most significant ever made by Australian scientists, makes the fossil the world’s oldest known vertebrate mother. It also provides the earliest evidence of vertebrate sexual reproduction, wherein the males (which possessed clasping organs similar to modern sharks and rays) internally fertilised females.
This fossil has been named Materpiscis attenboroughi, meaning ‘mother fish’, in honour of Sir David Attenborough, who first drew attention to the significance of the Gogo sites in his 1979 series Life on Earth.
Armour-plated shark-like fishes with no modern relatives, a second placoderm specimen containing three embryos was found earlier in 1986 and only recently recognised. These embryos also provided the first data on their developmental biology, indicating the early sequence of bone formation in the placoderm’s growth stages.
Studied using an ultra-fine CT scanner at the Australian National University in Canberra, such extraordinary preservation in such an old fossil is unprecedented. The team had also previously announced the first 3-D preserved muscle, nerve and circulatory tissues in a Devonian age (380 million year old) fish in 2007 paper in Biology Letters.
Liverpool is now famous for something other than the Beatles: Muslim holy fish draw faithful in British city. (Hat tip: Terp Mole.)
LONDON (AFP) - Muslim worshippers are flocking to see a pair of fish in the British city of Liverpool which appear to bear the words “Allah” and “Mohammed”, their owner said.
Ali Al-Waqedi, 23, who hailed the colored Oscar fish as a “message from God,” said he had loaned them to a friend whose house was close to the local mosque so that worshippers could visit more easily.
“I would say at least one hundred people have been there since I bought the fish last week,” Waqedi said.
Sheikh Sadek Kassem, imam of Liverpool’s Al-Rahma mosque, said: “This is a proof and a sign not just to Muslims, but for everyone.”
He quoted a passage from the Koran which suggested Allah will send signs. It reads: “Soon we will show them our signs in the regions, and in their own souls, until it becomes manifest to them that this is the truth.”
Waqedi said he went into a local pet shop to show his children the animals but he had not been planning to buy anything.
“We started to have a look at the Oscar fish because they had such an unusual colour. Then I saw that one of them had the word Allah. It was so clear, and it made me very happy,” he said.
“Then we saw that another one had the word Mohammed, and that was even better. To see the Allah fish was exciting, but to have the Allah and Mohammed fish in the same tank was unbelievable.”
I can’t believe there are no pictures of these miraculous fish online. I’ve searched all the usual spots.
UPDATE at 3/27/06 5:45:27 pm:
Last month, a pet shop near Bury, Greater Manchester, discovered an Oscar fish which appeared to have the word Allah on one side and Mohammed on the other.