The disappearance of large predatory species leaves gaps in the ecosystem for new species to fill, said Alessio Capobianco of the University of Michigan, lead author of the study, in a statement to Newsweek. The newly discovered fish species are thought to be one of those species that are trying to exploit these differences by diversifying and evolving new adaptive capabilities.
The researchers found the ancient anchovies in a nearly one foot fossil embedded in a rock formation near Chile? Vres, Belgium. In addition, they found another part of the fossils in Punjab, Pakistan. The researchers estimated that the fossils were between 41 million and 54 million years old.
Both fossils are characterized by a sword tooth in the fishs upper jaw. A high-resolution image of the fishs skull later revealed that ancient anchovies also had a row of fangs in their lower jaw. Scientists speculate that unlike todays docile, plankton fed anchovies, this ancient fish uses its fangs to hunt.
The researchers determined that part of the fossil from Pakistan preserved a unique species. They named it monosmiliuschureloides after a deformed creature with sharp tusks found in South Asian legends,. It is understood that the monosmiluschureloides can reach a maximum length of 3.2 feet, 10 times that of todays small anchovies. Its saber teeth are about 1 inch long, accounting for nearly 30% of its skull.
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