Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Putting flesh on the bones of ancient fish: Synchrotron X-rays reconstruct soft tissue on 380-million-year-old fish

Date:
June 13, 2013
Source:
European Synchrotron Radiation Facility
Summary:
Scientists present for the first time miraculously preserved musculature of 380 million year old armored fish discovered in north-west Australia. This research will help scientists to better understand how neck and abdominal muscles evolved during the transition from jawless to jawed vertebrates.

This is an alternative version with a pircture depicting the location in the fossil fish -- virtual thin section made in a nodule showing preserved bundles of muscles attached to the skull plate of a placoderm (fossil armored fish).
Credit: ESRF/Sophie Sanchez

Swedish, Australian and French researchers present for the first time miraculously preserved musculature of 380 million year old armoured fish discovered in north-west Australia. This research will help scientists to better understand how neck and abdominal muscles evolved during the transition from jawless to jawed vertebrates.

Related Articles


The scientific paper describing the discovery is published today in the journal Science.

The team of scientists who studied the fossilised fish was jointly directed by Prof. Kate Trinajstic, Curtin University, Perth, Australia and Prof. Per Erik Ahlberg of Uppsala University Sweden. The team also included scientists from the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility (ESRF), Grenoble, France; the Western Australian Museum, Perth; Flinders University, Adelaide; the Research School of Earth Sciences at the Australian National University, Canberra; the Research School of Physics and Engineering at the Australian National University; and the Australian Regenerative Medicine Institute, Monash University, Australia.

The word "fossil" naturally conjures up a vision of rattling skeletons. Bones and teeth fossilise far more easily than soft tissues and are usually the only traces of the animal that remain. This makes the rare fossils of soft tissues all the more valuable as windows to the biology of extinct organisms. Such tissues almost never fossilise and scientists usually have to extrapolate skin coverings and musculature from knowledge of modern organisms and from the fossilised skeletons.

The Gogo Formation, a sedimentary rock formation in north-western Australia, has long been famous for yielding exquisitely preserved fossil fish. Among other things it contains placoderms, an extinct group that includes some of the earliest jawed fish.

A few years ago, an Australian research team work led by Prof. Trinajstic made the remarkable discovery that these fossils also contained soft tissues including nerve and muscle cells. Now they have collaborated with the research group of Professor Per Ahlberg, Uppsala University, and with the European Synchrotron (ESRF) in Grenoble, France, to document and reconstruct the musculature of the placoderms. "High contrast X-ray images were produced thanks to a powerful beam and a protocol developed for fossil imaging at the ESRF. This is unique in the world and has enabled us to "reconstruct" some fossilised muscles and document the muscles of neck and abdomen in these early jawed fish, without damaging or affecting the fossilised remains," says Sophie Sanchez, one of the authors, from the ESRF and Uppsala University.

These early vertebrates prove to have a well-developed neck musculature as well as powerful abdominal muscles -- not unlike some human equivalents displayed on the beaches of the world every summer. Living fish, by contrast, usually have a rather simple body musculature without such specialisations.

"This shows that vertebrates developed a sophisticated musculature much earlier than we had thought" says Per Ahlberg, co-author of the project. "It also cautions against thinking that we can interpret fossil organisms simply by metaphorically draping their skeletons in the soft tissues of living relatives."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by European Synchrotron Radiation Facility. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Kate Trinajstic, Sophie Sanchez, Vincent Dupret, Paul Tafforeau, John Long, Gavin Young, Tim Senden, Catherine Boisvert, Nicola Power, and Per Erik Ahlberg. Fossil Musculature of the Most Primitive Jawed Vertebrates. Science, 2013 DOI: 10.1126/science.1237275

Cite This Page:

European Synchrotron Radiation Facility. "Putting flesh on the bones of ancient fish: Synchrotron X-rays reconstruct soft tissue on 380-million-year-old fish." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 13 June 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/06/130613142825.htm>.
European Synchrotron Radiation Facility. (2013, June 13). Putting flesh on the bones of ancient fish: Synchrotron X-rays reconstruct soft tissue on 380-million-year-old fish. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 25, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/06/130613142825.htm
European Synchrotron Radiation Facility. "Putting flesh on the bones of ancient fish: Synchrotron X-rays reconstruct soft tissue on 380-million-year-old fish." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/06/130613142825.htm (accessed October 25, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Deep Sea 'mushroom' Could Be Early Branch on Tree of Life

Deep Sea 'mushroom' Could Be Early Branch on Tree of Life

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Oct. 24, 2014) Miniature deep sea animals discovered off the Australian coast almost three decades ago are puzzling scientists, who say the organisms have proved impossible to categorise. Academics at the Natural History of Denmark have appealed to the world scientific community for help, saying that further information on Dendrogramma enigmatica and Dendrogramma discoides could answer key evolutionary questions. Jim Drury has more. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Black Bear Cub Goes Sunday Shopping

Black Bear Cub Goes Sunday Shopping

Reuters - Light News Video Online (Oct. 23, 2014) Price check on honey? Bear cub startles Oregon drugstore shoppers. Rough Cut (no reporter narration). Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Dances With Wolves in China's Wild West

Dances With Wolves in China's Wild West

AFP (Oct. 23, 2014) One man is on a mission to boost the population of wolves in China's violence-wracked far west. The animal - symbol of the Uighur minority there - is under threat with a massive human resettlement program in the region. Duration: 00:41 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Breakfast Debate: To Eat Or Not To Eat?

Breakfast Debate: To Eat Or Not To Eat?

Newsy (Oct. 23, 2014) Conflicting studies published in the same week re-ignited the debate over whether we should be eating breakfast. 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:

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