Scientist hails ‘jaw-dropping’ fish fossil discovery
A leading British scientist has said that the discovery of a 419-million-year-old fish fossil in China is a stunning and spectacular development.
Palaeobiologist Matt Friedman claims that the fish provided crucial evidence about the evolutionary development of jawed vertebrates.
As a remote relative of humans, it provides important evolutionary clues.
“It is the deepest branch of our family tree that bears the kinds of jaw bones found in humans,” Dr Friedman said.
The fossil was found at China’s Xiaoxiang Reservoir, and was reported by the journal Nature on Thursday.
Scientists say that the heavily armoured fish, Entelognathus primordialis, is a previously unknown member of jawed vertebrates also known as gnathostomes. It has a complex small skull and jaw-bone structure.
“This is an unexpected discovery that inverts schoolbook teaching on the evolution of bony skulls,” Dr Friedman said.
“Up until now it had been thought that the anatomical peculiarities of bony fishes – the group that would eventually give rise to human beings – are specialisations that arose later in vertebrate evolutionary history in our own bony fish lineage.”
“But now that narrative has been turned on its head.”
Dr Friedman said that the fish’s jaw was much more like that of a modern bony fish – which is why its discovery may offer a new perspective on the early evolution of these creatures.
His review of the significance of the fossil find also appears in the latest edition of Nature.
Scientists say that the evolution of jaws is one of the key episodes in the evolution of vertebrates, but the gap between jawed and jawless vertebrates is so large that it is hard to work out the individual evolutionary steps in the transition.
“While this fossil does not tell us anything about the origin of jawed fishes from jawless ones, it does tell us about subsequent modifications to jaw structure that we thought were unique to bony fishes,” Dr Friedman said.
It is thought that modern jawed vertebrates, such as sharks and bony fishes, emerged from a collection of jawed, armoured fishes known as placoderms.
Entelognathus primordialis has jaw-bone features previously restricted to bony fishes (osteichthyans) as well as full body armour seen in placoderms, and it would have been around 20cm (7.8in) long.
Dr Friedman says that the fossil adds weight to the theory that many classic bony fish features were evolved “very deep in our family tree, before bony fish split from sharks”.
“This means that we – as in bony fishes – are the ones who have held on to more ancient structures, while it is the sharks that have gone off and done something new and interesting in an evolutionary sense.
“They are the ones that have most radically modified this pattern, which we now understand is probably primitive to all modern jawed vertebrates.”
Marine Life & Conservation
Reefs Go Live returns for new season
CCMI brings the ocean directly to classrooms around the world through live-stream lessons from underwater
In 2018, the Central Caribbean Marine Institute (CCMI) launched Reefs Go Live, their innovative, flagship education programme that live-streams directly from underwater on the coral reefs in Little Cayman to students in classrooms around the world in real time. For the 2022 season, the four episodes of Reefs Go Live reached more than 107,000 viewers in 22 countries. CCMI’s Reefs Go Live team hopes to expand their reach with four new episodes and supplemental teaching resources to help integrate the material into classroom lessons.
Science Communications & Development Manager for CCMI, Beth Chafin, is excited to be part of another year of Reefs Go Live:
“Knowing we have an audience that spans the world, our team is energised as we plan and implement our Reefs Go Live season for 2023! We feel that creating a connection to the ocean and sharing the beautiful coral reefs of Little Cayman with others, both locally and abroad, is one of the most important ways to increase support for critical, timely issues such as marine protection and sustainability. At CCMI, we are fortunate to have these stunning reefs at our doorstep; not everyone is so lucky to be this connected to coral reefs, but healthy coral reefs are vitally important to everyone on earth. Bringing the ocean into classrooms and homes through Reefs Go Live allows us to share the work we do at the Little Cayman Research Centre, facilitate real-time interactions between viewers around the world and our experts in the field, and inspire the diverse audience to take positive action for the future of coral reefs.”
The first episode of 2023 will take place on Friday, 31st March at 10 am Cayman time (UTC -5h). The episode, ‘Finding Hope on our Reefs’, will feature what CCMI’s long-term monitoring of Little Cayman’s reefs shows us. The data from the annual surveys reveals important trends in reef health over time that reflect global threats and the benefits of strong local protection. Reefs Go Live hosts will explain why this annual monitoring is important and what the results tell us about the future of our coral reefs that we all depend upon. Viewers of each episode will be able to ask questions of the diver and participate in polls through the online platform to make Reefs Go Live an interactive experience.
Additional episodes for this year will run at 10 am (UTC -5h) on the following dates:
Thursday, 11th May: Adaptation on Coral Reefs
Wednesday, 24th May: Reef Resiliency & Restoration
Thursday, 8th June: World Ocean Day – 25 Years of Coral Reef Research
Registration for Reefs Go Live is free and is only required once to receive access to all episodes: https://donate.reefresearch.org/rgl2023.
Reefs Go Live provides an opportunity for students from all over the world to engage with the stunning ocean environment in its most natural format. As coral reefs around the world face unprecedented pressure, generating increased engagement with these precious ecosystems creates an opportunity to promote marine sustainability in a positive and fun way.
Reefs Go Live utilises streaming technology with underwater video and audio equipment to enable real time broadcasting from Little Cayman’s stunning coral reefs. Little Cayman, a Mission Blue Hope Spot, hosts one of the healthiest reef ecosystems in the Caribbean, which overall remains healthy and shows resiliency to climate change impacts. The broadcasts and education materials draw connections from CCMI’s current research conducted in Little Cayman to the national science curriculum and key ocean literacy principles, making CCMI’s work relevant and accessible to students and viewers of all ages, and emphasizing the relationship that we all have to coral reefs, no matter where we are.
Reefs Go Live is a free education programme that is made possible by the generosity of The Edmund F. and Virginia B. Ball Foundation. To register for the broadcasts and teaching resources, please visit: https://reefresearch.org/what-we-do/education/reefs-go-live/
Palaemon Divers shortlisted for top Business Award
North West-based Dive Centre, Palaemon Divers, has been shortlisted for Leisure and Tourism Start Up of the Year with Start Up Awards 2023.
Palaemon Divers is delighted to be named a finalist in the Awards which celebrate Start Up Businesses and what they have brought to the economy within three years of their launch.
Palaemon Divers was started by Leanne Clowes in the midst of COVID lockdowns. Leanne walked out of her well paid corporate sales job with no savings after a redundancy in a previous role and spending the majority of the year before COVID to follow the dream! After the redundancy and COVID, life struck just a little differently and the pull to become a full-time dive instructor became impossible to ignore!
So with that… notice was handed in, no savings, nothing physical to start being a full time dive instructor other than personal kit at the time – oh and the fact, Leanne was actually an Assistant Instructor at the time and hadn’t attended the instruction exam at that point as there had been none going on through COVID obviously!
However, the first Instructor Exam that was happening out of COVID was booked onto – no pressure at all with no full time job, no money as a back up, mortgage and bills to pay…
Leanne started freelancing as an instructor in the North West using various outdoor locations for training, and the business snowballed and quickly gained its first physical dive centre in January 2022 along with finding their own private in-water training facility at Princes Dock in Liverpool. Since then, 100s of new people from Liverpool and further afield have been introduced to the amazing sport of scuba, and experienced the abundant life under the surface of the dock itself.
In a time of no travel to outside your area or abroad, Palaemon Divers found something new and exciting to introduce the city of Liverpool to those who spend five days a week in the office looking down at the dock and not really being able to appreciate what the dock actually means to Liverpool!
It became apparent during 2022, that although Liverpool was fantastic, more growth was on the cards which came in the form of a second location, Palaemon Divers – Warrington. The second dive centre is an ex micro brewery in Warrington with a central location close to the M6, M62 and M56, spread over two floors which includes a classroom, workshop, compressor and a floor dedicated to retail.
The efforts in building this business have not gone unnoticed with the shortlist for Startup Awards, and also another shortlist which will be announced in the next month.
For more, email or visit:
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