an­cient fish had real bite

Practical Fishkeeping (UK) - - News -

Sci­en­tists study­ing fos­silised fish have dis­cov­ered what they be­lieve to be the ear­li­est-known flesh-eat­ing fish. The pet­ri­fied Pi­ranha-like species was found in South­ern Ger­many and lived around 150 mil­lion years ago. It’s thought it fed on the fins and flesh of liv­ing fish, as well as the car­casses of dead ones, and in­juries on other fos­silised fish of the same age from the same lo­ca­tion ap­pear to con­firm this.

Un­til this fos­sil was found, preda­tory bony fish from this far back were thought to largely feed on in­ver­te­brates, or by swal­low­ing prey whole. How­ever, grab­bing chunks of fin from liv­ing fish with­out killing them in the man­ner of many mod­ern Pi­ranha is an ef­fi­cient way of feed­ing with­out de­stroy­ing your food re­source as their fins re­grow.

What was es­pe­cially un­usual about the newly dis­cov­ered preda­tor is that it comes from an an­cient group known as the Py­c­n­odon­tids, which are known for their rounded, flat­tened crush­ing teeth, not fear­some flesh-tear­ing den­ti­tion.

A fos­silised and ex­tinct Py­c­n­odon­tid fish.

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