Fish fossils found in China shed light on human evolution

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Fish fossils found in China shed light on human evolution

The Chongqing site notably included a fish fossil from the Acanthodian family, with a jaw. Above is a reconstruction of what this fish looked like.

440-million-year-old fish fossils discovered in China help “fill in some of the key gaps” about how fish evolved into humans, researchers said Wednesday.


Scientists unearthed two fossil deposits in Guizhou Province and Chongqing Municipality in 2019.

The findings establish that many structures in the human body date back to ancient fish, including some 440 million years old, researchers from the Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology said. and Paleoanthropology (IVPP) of the Chinese Academy of Sciences.

Revealed in articles published Wednesday in the scientific journal Nature, they make it possible to fill some important gaps in the evolution “from fish to man”, they pointed out.

The Chongqing site notably included a fish fossil from the acanthodian family.

This species of fish, with bony armor around its fins, is considered the ancestor of modern creatures with jaws and a spine, including man.

In 2013, scientists discovered a 419-million-year-old fish fossil in China.

The discovery, they said, disproved the long-held theory that modern fish with a bony skeleton (osteichthyes) evolved from a shark-like fish with a cartilage framework.

The new creature discovered in China, named Fanjingshania, predates this ancient fish fossil by about 15 million years, according to the study.

These new data have provided valuable insights into the evolutionary steps leading to the origin of important vertebrate adaptations, such as jaws or sensory systems , Zhu Min, a member of the IVPP and head of the research team, told reporters on Wednesday.

“It is #x27;is the oldest jawed fish whose anatomy is known.

— Zhu Min, IVPP member and head of the research team

The Chongqing fossils are also the only ones in the world dating from nearly 440 million years of preserving whole jawed fish, from head to tail, offering a rare glimpse into a period considered the dawn of the fish, according to the IVPP.

This is an incredible fossil find, said John Long, former president of the U.S.-based Society for Vertebrate Paleontology .

This challenges almost everything we knew about the early evolutionary history of jawed animals.

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