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390 million-year-old fish-like creature is revealed to be first ancestors of humans: Study

Humans have come a long way from their humble beginnings. The four-limbed animals that we are today evolved from fish, as bizarre as it may appear. Researchers have discovered one of the oldest progenitors of humans, among other four-limbed creatures, based on this feature.

Researchers at the RIKEN Cluster for Pioneering Research (CPR) in Japan have discovered the appearance of an ancient fish-like animal that is thought to be one of the first relatives of humanity. Palaeospondylus gunni was an eel-like organism that lived around 390 million years ago.

Palaeospondylus was initially discovered in Scotland in 1890, but experts struggled to locate it on the evolutionary tree because it was barely 5 cm long. As a consequence, researchers struggled to create a skull reconstruction of the fish-like species. The scientists built out a visual depiction of the fossil using incredibly strong, high-resolution micro-CT scans.

“Choosing the best specimens for the micro-CT scans and carefully trimming away the tick surrounding the fossilised skill allowed us to improve the resolution of the scans. Although not quite cutting-edge technology, these preparations were certainly key to our achievement,” said the study’s lead author, Tatsuya Hirasawa, in a statement.

Three semicircular canals were discovered in the fossil, which resembled the inner-ear anatomy of animals with jaws. The discovery dispelled the myth that the Palaeospondylus shared characteristics with both jawed and jawless fish. The Palaeospondylus fossil, on the other hand, has never been linked to teeth or dermal bones, which are common in tetrapod morphs, another branch of our family tree.

In response to this puzzling discovery, Hirasawa speculated that the lack of these traits may have resulted from evolutionary loss or a halt in development. ‘Nevertheless, this heterochronic evolution might have facilitated the development of new features like limbs’,Hirasawa said.


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