150m-year-old fish fossil found

Mindy Sparks
October 22, 2018

"Feed on a fish and it is dead; nibble its fins and you have food for the future".

After close inspection, the fossilised fish was found to have extremely strong jaws, revealing long, pointed and slightly curved teeth.

It also had terrifying teeth at the front of both the upper and lower jaws as well as triangular teeth with serrated cutting edges on the side of the lower jaw. The new find suggests that these piranha-like fish engages in aggressive mimicry that incredibly parallels the feeding patterns of modern day piranhas which live in fresh water.

"At that time, the area which now is southern Germany was occupied by a shallow tropical sea dotted with small sun-bathed islands, covered by a probably sparse vegetation of ferns and cycads on which exotic animals lived: numerous insects, lizards, small dinosaurs, and the early bird Archaeopteryx", said for Gizmodo the study's co-author Martina Kolbl-Ebert. It is like finding a sheep with a snarl like a wolf'. Instead, like modern piranhas, Piranhamesodon would cut chunks of flesh and fin from other fish with no problem. The researchers believed that to bite the flesh they became later. "They show injuries to their fins and fin bases, some freshly wounded before they died and got fossilized, whereas others show completely healed injuries with regeneration of the fin", Kölbl-Ebert said.

The almost complete fossil is described in a study published Thursday in the journal Current Biology.

It shows the remarkable connection between the time when dinosaurs walked the Earth and our modern world.

If they're right, this would be the oldest evidence of a flesh-eating bony fish belonging to a group that is genetically not even related to the piranha. This new discovery would seem to suggest that the same was true of similar fish going back 150 million years.

"We were stunned that this fish had piranha-like teeth, "says lead author Martina Kölbl-Ebert, a paleontologist at Jura-Museum Eichstätt, where the fossil is now being kept".

"It's a remarkably smart move as fins regrow, a neat renewable resource".

Where do we find piranhas in the modern world? Their fossils were found with preserved shells and sea urchin spines in their guts.

Not very, despite the best efforts of Hollywood.

Piranhamesodon pinnatomus, 2.8 inches (7.1 cm) long, from the Late Jurassic of Ettling, Solnhofen Archipelago, Germany.

But according to studies, the reputation of piranhas as terrifying creatures is mostly mythical.

The fish will congregate in shoals which some have proposed makes it easier to attack and strip flesh from the bones of other species, but most scientists believe that the group approach is to protect piranhas from predators. Some say they are like a typical bony, white fish. "It lived in the sponge and coral reefs, where it would have looked quite inconspicuous, resembling any other contemporary coral fish", added Kolbl-Ebert for Gizmodo.

Either way, they are considered a relatively sustainable food, as the creatures are not overfished and are not now considered endangered by the IUCN.

Other reports by Iphone Fresh

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