Paleontologists were able to reconstruct the way a fish looked like as it swam on the sea floor over 400 million years ago. The creature looks like a stingray and has the bill of a platypus.
Scientists at the Australian National University and Flinders University used 400 million years old fossils to reconstruct the image of a strange fish. It has nostrils coming from the eye sockets and a long bill with jaws.
They named it Brindabellaspis, after the Brindabella range (close to Canberra). Scientists believe that the creature is part of the extinct prehistoric armored fish group called placoderms.
The fossils they used were from the Devonian period – over 175 million years older, than the time when the first dinosaurs appeared.
Scientists discovered the fossils near Lake Burrinjuck dam, north of the Brindabellas (New South Wales). That area contains the earlies reef fish fauna and ancient tropical coral reef, containing great and thriving biodiversity.
ANU paleobiologist that discovered the first fossils in 1969 is Dr. Gavin Young, saying that the Brindabellaspis was the strangest fossil out of the 70 he found in the ancient ecosystem.
“This thing is really weird. It doesn’t really fit in anywhere.”
Young said that they discovered something special about that type of fish:
“It has a very weird and unexpected skull shape with a long snout and the possible capacity to use electrical reception to find animals in the soft mud at the sea bottom.”
Lead authors of the paper, Benedict King, Dr. Gavin Young and researcher John Long (Flinders University) wrote in the Conversation that the fauna in Burrinjuck has changed in time. Placoderms and lungfishes dominated the fish groups in the coral reefs. Over time, Placoderms went extinct, and lungfishes live through six species worldwide, but only in fresh water. Now, the modern reefs are “dominated by teleost fish, a group that first appeared around 230 million years ago, long after the Burrinjuck reef,” wrote the authors.
Their paper was published today in the journal Royal Society Open Science.
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