Archaeologists Find Fossils of Predatory Fish from the Age of Dinosaurs. PHOTO/ WION NEWS
BEIJING – A team of researchers from China, the United States and the United Kingdom discovered fossils of a 160 million year old “flesh-eating” lamprey species in Yunnan Province, China. The fossil was discovered in the Xinmin Formation, which dates to the early Jurassic period.
As reported by Wion News, Sunday, (5/11/2023), lampreys are parasitic fish that live by sucking the blood of other fish.
This newly discovered species of lamprey, named Yunnanconodon sinensis, has sharp teeth and strong jaws, indicating that it preyed on other fish.
“This fossil is the first evidence that lampreys were predators in the early Jurassic period,” said Dr. Thomas Martin, one of the authors of the study published in the journal Nature Communications.
This lamprey fossil measures about 10 cm in length. It has a large head and a wide mouth, with sharp teeth on both sides of the jaw. The teeth are shaped like razor blades and are neatly arranged in two rows.
Yunnanconodon sinensis’ jaw also had a unique structure, which allowed it to open its mouth wide. This allows it to swallow prey larger than its own body.
The discovery of this fossil provides new insight into lamprey evolution. Lampreys have been on earth for more than 300 million years, but their earliest fossils suggest they were harmless animals.
Yunnanconodon sinensis fossils show that lampreys had evolved into predators during the early Jurassic.
This research also shows that lamprey predators have existed in the ocean since the beginning of the dinosaur era. This could have had an important impact on marine ecosystems at that time.