(ORDO NEWS) — Chinese scientists have described the oldest fish with teeth: a new species called Qianodus duplicis, or double qianodus. The organism inhabited our planet about 443-419 million years ago.
About 425 million years ago, an evolutionary innovation appeared among primitive fish that determined the future course of vertebrate development. In some jawless gill arches, which originally served to support the respiratory apparatus, they shifted forward, turning into the first jaws.
At about the same time, the first real teeth appeared, which the ancient jawless fish did not have. There are several theories of their origin, including development from fish scales or throat horns, but eventually teeth and jaws formed a single apparatus that served to grasp and hold large prey that actively resisted.
And now Chinese scientists have described the oldest fish with teeth – Qianodus duplicis. The fossil was discovered back in 2019 in southern China, in the province of Guizhou, and they are peculiar tooth curls on which several long, sharp teeth grew. These teeth are at least 14 million years older than any other teeth discovered by paleontologists.
Teeth play an important role
The appearance of teeth in vertebrates led to an explosion of biodiversity, and very soon many animals were swimming in the ancient seas, capable of biting and tearing prey.
The ancient jawless quickly lost their role in ecosystems, and already 419 million years, at the beginning of the Devonian, the ancient cartilaginous and bony fishes reached an unprecedented diversity, thanks to which this time was called the “age of fish”.
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