Primordial Complete Jaw
September 26, 2013 6:46 AM   Subscribe

"The majority of fossil discoveries worth publishing about can either strengthen previous studies or dish out little parcels of new data. These allow us to slowly piece together the history of life on Earth, but do not significantly rock the boat. But every now and then you are confronted with a jaw-dropping specimen, a fossil that says, “forget the textbooks, THIS is how it happened…” Momentous discoveries like Lucy the Australopithecus and the first batch of Chinese feathered dinosaurs that unleashed a tsunami of new information, bringing sudden clarity to our view of the distant past, and forcing us to rethink what we thought we knew about evolution. Now joining their ranks is a little armoured fish called Entelognathus, described in Nature by an international team of researchers led by Prof. Zhu Min at IVPP, Beijing."

The full article is behind a paywall, but you can see the abstract and small versions of the figures.

Brian Choo, one of the authors of the paper, has more on Entelognathus (and lots of great paleoart) on his DeviantART page:

Hypothesised skull homology.

A comparison of old and new hypotheses of the evolution of jawed fish.
posted by Akhu (12 comments total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
This is awesome. And not just because I accidentally misread it at first as "Primordial complete Jew."
posted by Tomorrowful at 6:50 AM on September 26, 2013 [4 favorites]

Neat! I went scooting around looking for an unpaywalled version of the Nature article and found a few more people speculating that this is going to tell us more about how human jaws evolved, they think. Thanks for making a good post about this. How cool that Choo has a Deviantart page.
posted by jessamyn at 6:52 AM on September 26, 2013

Gnathostomes represent.
posted by planetesimal at 7:22 AM on September 26, 2013 [1 favorite]

Very cool
posted by rmless at 7:40 AM on September 26, 2013

Wait a second, I thought cartilaginous fish were more primitive, predating bony fish (this is what I learned ~ 30 years ago). When was it discovered that cartiliginization was a specialization?
posted by Renoroc at 8:28 AM on September 26, 2013

Today I learned I'm technically a species of lobed fish.
posted by Slap*Happy at 8:36 AM on September 26, 2013

"Besides osteichthyans, the other living gnathostomes are the chondrichthyans..."

I am pretty sure these are all alien races in Star Trek.
posted by marienbad at 8:51 AM on September 26, 2013

I never, ever thought I'd be going to DeviantArt to learn science. Not sure if this happened because DeviantArt is awesome, or because the traditional venues for science are awful.
posted by vasi at 9:14 AM on September 26, 2013 [2 favorites]

There's a decent summary of the story at ABC Australia.
posted by Twang at 9:38 AM on September 26, 2013

Renoroc, you might be thinking of jawless fish, things like lampreys, which do have cartilage and did branch off before any of these guys. The most recent common ancestor of a lamprey and a tuna or a human would have had a cartilaginous skeleton. It's just the jawed fish (including sharks and their relatives) who descend from a bony ancestor, with sharks and their cartilage being a bit like the way ostriches and penguins are the descendants of birds that could fly.

There's also that the early evolution of vertebrate jaws has been confusing and poorly understood for a very long time. There are the two major living groups of jawed fish, bony and cartilaginous, but then there are these extinct fish which show up around the same time in the fossil record and have some bone. They are awesome and awkwardly adorable and often weird. It's really only in the last few years that new discoveries and new studies have suggested that the living groups branched off of this extinct one. Finding this guy really is like finding those first feathered dinosaurs. You can point to them and say that birds are dinosaurs, and you can point to this guy and say that we are placoderms.
posted by Akhu at 9:39 AM on September 26, 2013 [4 favorites]

You see. Evolution is just a theory. This totally proves Intelligent Design.
posted by Mental Wimp at 9:46 AM on September 26, 2013 [1 favorite]

When will we find the fish with beards?
posted by oceanjesse at 4:01 PM on September 26, 2013

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