Friday, September 27, 2013

Fishface! Ancient Fish with a Jaw, Cheekbones, and Beady Little Eyes

"The earliest known species with what we would recognize as a face was an armored, beady-eyed prehistoric fish."

"First face? Prehistoric fish was a jawdropper"
Jennifer Viegas, Discovery News, via (September 25, 2013)

"The earliest known species with what we would recognize as a face was an armored, beady-eyed prehistoric fish, according to a new paper in the journal Nature.

"The fish, entelognathus primordialis (meaning 'primordial complete jaw'), is the oldest known animal to have face-forming jaw and cheek bones comparable to those of today's bony fishes and most terrestrial animals, including us....

"...'Entelognathus had a rather unprepossessing face,' co-author Per Erik Ahlberg of Uppsala University told Discovery News. 'The mouth was wide, the forehead low and flat, and the small, close-set and almost immobile eyes pointed forwards like a pair of car headlights.'..."

The Lemming isn't sure that "primitive" is quite the right term for this piscine prodigy. That jaw was a revolutionary development in fish: and still standard equipment in most land animals that keep their skeleton on the inside. Which is dandy place for it, in the Lemming's opinion.

Sharks definitely aren't primitive, as Friedman points out in the article. Matt Friedman: the Lemming gathers that he does lectures about paleobiology at Oxford. The university, not the town: although Oxford U. is in Oxford, and that's another topic.

Sure, the skeletons of sharks are cartilage, not bone, but those fish are specialized and represent a fairly recent development. "Recent" is in the eye of the beholder, of course. Or Lemming, in this case.

Lampreys and hag-fish: now those things are primitive. Not the current ones so much, but their equally-jawless predecessors back in the good old days when agnatha shared the world with critters that give new meaning to the word "weird."

(D.W. Miller, via the Smithsonian Institution, used w/o permission.)

Of course, if opabinia had kept going for another 500,000,000 years or so, they might be complaining about the younger generation and cost of living: and think critters with only two eyes are weird. And that's another topic. Topics.

Opabina? That's the little critter with five eyes and an improbable-looking mouth-claw-pincer thing sticking out of its front end in that picture.

Allegedly-related posts:

(From Chase Studios, via Sam Noble Museum, University of Oklahoma, used w/o permission.)

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