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Scientist hails ‘jaw-dropping’ fish fossil discovery

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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.”

 

Source: www.bbc.co.uk/news

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Roots Red Sea is the Travelers’ Choice

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There is a remote spot on the coast of the Egyptian Eastern Desert that has been steadily developing an enviable reputation amongst the worlds diving community. It’s absolutely no surprise then that Roots Red Sea has just received TripAdvisors top award, Travelers Choice, the 10th year running it has been recognised with awards from TripAdvisor!

With a passing glance, many divers have dismissed a visit to this gem, its rustic appearance and remote location seemingly enough to deter further consideration. However, those that take a closer look have been rewarded with simply a totally unique experience with awesome diving, an unbelievable welcome and life long memories.

Winning an award once could be luck, every year for 10 years, there has to be a reason. Why not go to find out what it is?

info@rootsredsea.com

www.rootsredsea.com

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The BiG Scuba Podcast… with Nays Baghai

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Gemma and Ian chat to Nays Baghai. Inspired by The Blue Planet as a child, Nays’ work as an underwater cinematographer and photographer has been showcased by numerous premier brands, including Rolex and Sony Alpha.  Nays was featured amongst the Top 30 finalists of the Australasian Top Emerging Photographers competition in the Portfolio and Animal categories. He is a PADI-certified Freediving Instructor and Master Scuba Diver, and can dive to 40m both with and without tanks.

Have a listen here:

Find out more:


Find more podcast episodes and information at the new www.thebigscuba.com  website and on most social platforms @thebigscuba 

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A luxurious dive resort in the heart of Lembeh Strait. Enjoy refined services while exploring the rich waters of Indonesia.

The resort is nestled around an ocean front deck and swimming-pool (with pool-bar) which is the perfect place to enjoy a sundowner cocktail at the end of a busy day of critter-diving.

All accommodation is full board and includes three sumptuous meals a day. Breakfast and lunch are buffet meals and in the evening dining is a la carte.

Book and stay before the end of June and benefit from no single supplements in all room types!

Booking deadline: Subject to availability – book and stay before end of June 2022

Call Diverse Travel on 01473 852002 or email info@diversetravel.co.uk.

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