Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Fresh Fossil Evidence Of Eye Forerunner Uncovered

Date:
January 2, 2008
Source:
Australian National University
Summary:
Ancient armored fish fossils from Australia present some of the first definite fossil evidence of a forerunner to the human eye. Researchers analyzed the fossilized remains of 400-million-year-old Devonian placoderms -- jawed ancestors of modern fish whose bodies were protected by thick bony armor. Palaeobiologists discovered that unlike all living vertebrate animals -- which includes everything from the jawless lamprey fish to humans -- placoderms had a different arrangement of muscles and nerves supporting the eyeball -- evidence of an "intermediate stage" between the evolution of jawless and jawed vertebrates.

Scan of placoderm eye casing. The arrangement of muscles and nerves supporting the eyeball in placoderms provides evidence of an "intermediate stage" between the evolution of jawless and jawed vertebrates.
Credit: Image courtesy of Australian National University

Ancient armoured fish fossils from Australia present some of the first definite fossil evidence of a forerunner to the human eye, a scientist from The Australian National University says.

Related Articles


Dr Gavin Young from the Department of Earth and Marine Sciences at ANU has analysed fossilised remains of 400-million-year-old Devonian placoderms – jawed ancestors of modern fish whose bodies were protected by thick bony armour.

“The ancient limestone reefs exposed around Lake Burrinjuck in New South Wales have produced exceptionally well preserved placoderm specimens with the braincase intact,” Dr Young said.

The palaeobiologist discovered that unlike all living vertebrate animals – which includes everything from the jawless lamprey fish to humans – placoderms had a different arrangement of muscles and nerves supporting the eyeball – evidence of an “intermediate stage” between the evolution of jawless and jawed vertebrates.

“The vertebrate eye is the best example of structural perfection – as used by proponents of intelligent design to claim that something so complex couldn’t possibly have evolved,” Dr Young said.

“Part of the trouble in tracing the evolution of the eye is that soft tissues don’t tend to fossilise. But the eye cavities in the braincase of these 400 million-year-old fossil fish were lined with a delicate layer of very thin bone. All the details of the nerve canals and muscle insertions inside the eye socket are preserved – the first definite fossil evidence demonstrating an intermediate stage in the evolution of our most complex sensory organ.

“These extinct placoderms had the eyeball still connected to the braincase by cartilage, as in modern sharks, and a primitive eye muscle arrangement as in living jawless fish.” Dr Young said that this anatomical arrangement is different from all modern vertebrates, in which there is a consistent pattern of tiny muscles for rotating each eyeball.

The placoderm fossils were analysed using computer X-ray tomography at ANU, a scanning technique that creates a three-dimensional image of complex organic structures. “What this research shows is that 400 million years ago there was already a complex eye, and one that was an intermediate form between jawless and jawed vertebrates,” Dr Young says. “This means that we’re able to add one more piece to the puzzle of how the human eye came to be.”

These findings are published in a recent edition of Biology Letters, a journal of the Royal Society, London.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Australian National University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Australian National University. "Fresh Fossil Evidence Of Eye Forerunner Uncovered." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 2 January 2008. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/01/080101193317.htm>.
Australian National University. (2008, January 2). Fresh Fossil Evidence Of Eye Forerunner Uncovered. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 18, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/01/080101193317.htm
Australian National University. "Fresh Fossil Evidence Of Eye Forerunner Uncovered." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/01/080101193317.htm (accessed December 18, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Fossils & Ruins News

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Researchers Bring Player Pianos Back to Life

Researchers Bring Player Pianos Back to Life

AP (Dec. 17, 2014) Stanford University wants to unlock the secrets of the player piano. Researchers are restoring and studying self-playing pianos and the music rolls that recorded major composers performing their own work. (Dec. 17) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Domestication Might've Been Bad For Horses

Domestication Might've Been Bad For Horses

Newsy (Dec. 16, 2014) A group of scientists looked at the genetics behind the domestication of the horse and showed how human manipulation changed horses' DNA. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Mozart, Beethoven, Shubert and Bizet Manuscripts to Go on Sale

Mozart, Beethoven, Shubert and Bizet Manuscripts to Go on Sale

AFP (Dec. 16, 2014) A collection of rare manuscripts by composers Mozart, Beethoven, Shubert and Bizet are due to go on sale at auction on December 17. Duration: 00:57 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Old Ship Records to Shed Light on Arctic Ice Loss

Old Ship Records to Shed Light on Arctic Ice Loss

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Dec. 15, 2014) Researchers are looking to the past to gain a clearer picture of what the future holds for ice in the Arctic. A project to analyse and digitize ship logs dating back to the 1850's aims to lengthen the timeline of recorded ice data. Ben Gruber reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins