Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Fish 380 Million Years Old Found With Unborn Embryo

Date:
June 6, 2008
Source:
Museum Victoria
Summary:
Australian researchers have discovered a remarkable 380-million-year-old fossil placoderm fish with intact embryo and mineralized umbilical cord. The discovery makes the fossil the world's oldest known vertebrate mother. It also provides the earliest evidence of vertebrate sexual reproduction, wherein the males (which possessed clasping organs similar to modern sharks and rays) internally fertilized females.

Placoderm gives birth.
Credit: Museum Victoria

In 2005, Museum Victoria’s expedition to the Gogo fossil sites in north Western Australia, led by Dr John Long, made a swag of spectacular fossil discoveries, including that of a complete fish, Gogonasus, showing unexpected features similar to early land animals.

Now the same team has made a new discovery: a remarkable 380-million-year-old fossil placoderm fish with intact embryo and mineralised umbilical cord.

The discovery, published in Nature, makes the fossil the world’s oldest known vertebrate mother. It also provides the earliest evidence of vertebrate sexual reproduction, wherein the males (which possessed clasping organs similar to modern sharks and rays) internally fertilised females.

“The discovery is certainly one of the most extraordinary fossil finds ever made. It is not only the first time ever that a fossil embryo has been found with an umbilical cord, but it is also the oldest known example of any creature giving birth to live young,” said Dr John Long, Head, Sciences, Museum Victoria. 

“The existence of the embryo and umbilical cord within the specimen provides scientists with the first ever example of internal fertilisation - i.e sex - confirming that some placoderms had remarkably advanced reproductive biology. This discovery changes our understanding of the evolution of vertebrates,” he added.

This fossil has been named Materpiscis attenboroughi, meaning ‘mother fish’, in honour of Sir David Attenborough, who first drew attention to the significance of the Gogo sites in his 1979 series Life on Earth.

Armour-plated shark-like fishes with no modern relatives, a second placoderm specimen containing three embryos was found earlier in 1986 and only recently recognised. These embryos also provided the first data on their developmental biology, indicating the early sequence of bone formation in the placoderm’s growth stages.

Studied using an ultra-fine CT scanner at the Australian National University in Canberra, such extraordinary preservation in such an old fossil is unprecedented. The team had also previously announced the first 3-D preserved muscle, nerve and circulatory tissues in a Devonian age (380 million year old) fish in 2007 paper in Biology Letters.

This research project was funded by Australian Research Council Grant DP0772138 ‘Old Brains, New Data’.


Story Source:

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


Journal References:

  1. Long et al. Live birth in the Devonian period. Nature, 2008; 453 (7195): 650 DOI: 10.1038/nature06966
  2. Long et al. An exceptional Devonian fish from Australia sheds light on tetrapod origins. Nature, 2006; 444 (7116): 199 DOI: 10.1038/nature05243
  3. Trinajstic et al. Exceptional preservation of nerve and muscle tissues in Late Devonian placoderm fish and their evolutionary implications. Biology Letters, 2007; 3 (2): 197 DOI: 10.1098/rsbl.2006.0604

Cite This Page:

Museum Victoria. "Fish 380 Million Years Old Found With Unborn Embryo." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 6 June 2008. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/06/080606104814.htm>.
Museum Victoria. (2008, June 6). Fish 380 Million Years Old Found With Unborn Embryo. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 23, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/06/080606104814.htm
Museum Victoria. "Fish 380 Million Years Old Found With Unborn Embryo." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/06/080606104814.htm (accessed August 23, 2014).

Share This




More Fossils & Ruins News

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Neanderthals Probably Died Out Earlier Than We Thought

Neanderthals Probably Died Out Earlier Than We Thought

Newsy (Aug. 21, 2014) — A new study is packed with interesting Neanderthal-related findings, including a "definitive answer" to when they went extinct. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Disquieting Times for Malaysia's 'fish Listeners'

Disquieting Times for Malaysia's 'fish Listeners'

AFP (Aug. 19, 2014) — Malaysia's last "fish listeners" -- practitioners of a dying local art of listening underwater to locate their quarry -- try to keep the ancient technique alive in the face of industrial trawling and the depletion of stocks. Duration: 02:29 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Mother And Son Find Woolly Mammoth Tusks 22 Years Apart

Mother And Son Find Woolly Mammoth Tusks 22 Years Apart

Newsy (Aug. 15, 2014) — A mother and son in Alaska uncovered woolly mammoth tusks in the same river more than two decades apart. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Fossils Reveal Ancient Flying Reptile With 'Butterfly Head'

Fossils Reveal Ancient Flying Reptile With 'Butterfly Head'

Newsy (Aug. 14, 2014) — Newly found fossils reveal a previously unknown species of flying reptile with a really weird head, which some say looks like a butterfly. Video provided by Newsy
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:
from the past week

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