Whole heart and internal organs in an ancient Australian fish fossil

MrScientists in Australia have discovered a fossil of an ancient fish with internal organs in good condition, including the stomach. It is hoped that this can provide information relating to the evolution of vertebrates, including humans.

It is found in fossils of fish called placoderms that lived in tropical coral reefs from the Devonian period 38 million years ago. The newly discovered fossil is 25 million years older than the oldest fish heart ever found.

Fossilized internal organs such as the liver, stomach and intestines can provide information about the vertebrates that lived at the time, including fish, amphibians, reptiles and mammals.

The fossils were found in the Gogo Formation near the town of Fitzroy Crossing in the Kimberley region of Western Australia. Only normal bones and teeth are found as fossils. But what sets the new fossil apart is that the thin skin is also preserved.

“The site is undoubtedly one of the most important fossil sites in the world for understanding the early evolution of vertebrates, including the origins of human anatomy,” said Kate Trinjstic, a vertebrate paleontologist at Curtin University and the Western Australian Museum.

Placoderms, known for their bony armor around the head and neck, ‘represent our earliest jawed ancestors,’ he said. The study was published in the journal Science.

Placoderms had an S-shaped heart similar to a shark’s heart. It has two chambers. Less at the top and more at the bottom. It is located at the front of the shoulder girdle, similar to sharks and bony fish. Its structure differs from that of later vertebrates. Amphibians and reptiles have a three-chambered heart. While mammals and birds have a four chambered heart.

In land-dwelling vertebrates during the Devonian period, the heart moved further back in the body. From the perspective of humans standing, down. If a person’s heart is in the same place as these placoderms. It is at the base of the neck between the collar bones.

The placoderms had large livers like those of sharks. Placoderm’s stomach is flat, somewhat square and bag-shaped. It has a special thick wall structure. The intestines have spiral valves that help absorb food. No evidence of lung.

A comparative study with this ancient fossil allows us to study changes in the organization of the body structure of modern humans and other organisms that are thought to have evolved from fish.

Content Highlights: Australian fish fossils preserved fossilized hearts and other internal organs

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