Australian archaeologists have discovered a fish with the oldest known heart, dating back 380 million years. Scientists claim that the findings of this study, led by Curtin University in Perth, explain the physical evolution of humans.
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The fish fossil was discovered in the Gogo Formation, in the Kimberley area of Western Australia.
According to a statement from Curtin University, X-rays and neutron beams were used to scan the fish specimens, which were preserved in limestone concretions. The study was led by Professor Kate Trinajstic. Then 3D scans of their internal organs and tissues were taken.
Once thought to be extinct, a research team has now discovered a 3-D model of the complicated s-shaped heart of an arthrodire, a type of jawfish. The research has been published in Science.
The findings will have far-reaching implications for evolutionary studies. Scientists have found that evolution often takes place in stages. However, these results imply a huge leap in evolutionary development between jaws and jawless animals. Hearts sat in the mouths of the extinct fish, just below their gills. Currently, sharks still have a similar structure. She went on to say that such traits in these animals were quite advanced and provided insight into the evolution of the jaws by revealing changes in the spine and skull.
“Evolution is often thought of as a series of small steps, but these ancient fossils suggest there was a larger leap between jawless vertebrates and vertebrates. “These fish literally have their hearts in their mouths and under their gills — just like sharks do today,” said Professor Kate Trinajstic.
She added that the study provided important clues about how vertebrate anatomy evolved.
“These features were advanced in such early vertebrates and offered a unique insight into how the head and neck region began to change to accommodate jaws, a critical stage in the evolution of our own bodies,” the statement said.