Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Fossil shows fish had sucker on its back

Date:
July 26, 2013
Source:
University of Oxford
Summary:
A 30-million year-old fossil has revealed how remoras -- also called sharksuckers -- evolved the sucker that enables them to stick to other fishes and 'hitch a ride'.

Remora fossil body. The sucker is boxed off in white.
Credit: Image courtesy of University of Oxford

A 30 million year-old fossil has revealed how remoras -- also called sharksuckers -- evolved the sucker that enables them to stick to other fishes and 'hitch a ride'.

Related Articles


Previous evidence, such as the segmented structure of the sucker and how it develops in a similar way to fins in normal fish, led scientists to believe that it must be a modified dorsal fin -- the fin located on the back of normal fishes. But the evolutionary steps that led from fin to sucker were a mystery.

Now a team led by scientists from Oxford University and London's Natural History Museum has studied an early fossil remora and found that it evolved a fully-functioning sucker -- 'adhesion disc' -- on its back. It was only later in the evolutionary history of remoras that the sucker migrated to the top of the head where it is found in all remoras alive today.

A report of the research is published in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B.

'The remora sucker is a truly amazing anatomical specialisation but, strange as it may seem, it evolved from a spiny fin,' said Dr Matt Friedman of Oxford University's Department of Earth Sciences, lead author of the report. 'In this fossil the fin is clearly modified as a disc but is found on the back of the fish. It enables us to say that first fin spines on the back broadened to form wide segments of a suction disc. After the disc evolved, it migrated to the skull, and it was there that individual segments became divided in two, the number of segments increased, and a row of spines were developed on the back of individual segments.'

Modern remoras use their sucker to fasten themselves to hosts including whales, turtles, and sharks. The researchers have shown that the fossil remora (†Opisthomyzon), dating from the Oligocene period and unearthed in Switzerland, falls outside the branch on the evolutionary tree occupied by all living remoras. As such it preserves primitive aspects of the shape and construction of the adhesion disc not found in modern remoras, all of which share discs that are broadly similar in construction.

'It's exciting that fossil fish from the Natural History Museum were so crucial to this study, and shows the important value of our collections for scientific research,' said Dr Zerina Johanson, palaeontologist at London's Natural History Museum. 'Following painstaking preparation by our fossil preparator, Mark Graham, we were able to clearly see several important features of the disc in the fossil, for example that it's much shorter than the disc in living remoras, with fewer segments.'

'One of the remarkable things we've learned about modern fishes is that some creatures that look very different, for example pufferfishes and anglerfishes, are actually very closely related,' said Dr Friedman. 'It's through fossils like this one, which preserve body plans and structures that have been pruned from the evolutionary tree by extinction, that we can unravel how they diverged from one another to assume the very different forms we see today.'


Story Source:

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


Journal Reference:

  1. M. Friedman, Z. Johanson, R. C. Harrington, T. J. Near, M. R. Graham. An early fossil remora (Echeneoidea) reveals the evolutionary assembly of the adhesion disc. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 2013; 280 (1766): 20131200 DOI: 10.1098/rspb.2013.1200

Cite This Page:

University of Oxford. "Fossil shows fish had sucker on its back." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 26 July 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/07/130726074238.htm>.
University of Oxford. (2013, July 26). Fossil shows fish had sucker on its back. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 20, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/07/130726074238.htm
University of Oxford. "Fossil shows fish had sucker on its back." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/07/130726074238.htm (accessed November 20, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Plants & Animals News

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Pygmy Marmoset Getting a Toothbrush Massage Is the Cutest

Pygmy Marmoset Getting a Toothbrush Massage Is the Cutest

Buzz60 (Nov. 19, 2014) This rescued pygmy marmoset named Ninita is obsessed with her toothbrush. It's cuteness overload, and Sean Dowling (@SeanDowlingTV) has the amazing video. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
Why Are Chocolate Makers So Worried?

Why Are Chocolate Makers So Worried?

Reuters - Business Video Online (Nov. 19, 2014) Two big chocolate producers are warning the popular treat could run out by 2020 because people are eating it faster than farmers can grow cocoa. Ciara Lee reports Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Tiny Hamster Eating Thanksgiving Meal Breaks the Internet

Tiny Hamster Eating Thanksgiving Meal Breaks the Internet

Buzz60 (Nov. 19, 2014) A tiny hamster and a bunny and rat enjoy a tiny Thanksgiving meal where they stuff themselves to the brim. Sean Dowling (@SeanDowlingTV) has the cute video. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
Giant Panda at Toronto Zoo Loves Somersaulting in the Snow

Giant Panda at Toronto Zoo Loves Somersaulting in the Snow

Buzz60 (Nov. 19, 2014) A giant panda at the Toronto Zoo named Da Mao is celebrating the northeast snowfall by playing and tumbling in the snow in his outdoor enclosure. Jen Markham has the story. Video provided by Buzz60
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