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How large were Earth's earliest animals ?

Posted on Monday, 16 June, 2014 | Comment icon 22 comments

Some early fish were much larger than expected. Image Credit: CC BY-SA 2.0 Phillip Capper
Palaentologists have discovered the fossil remains of a large fish dating back 423 million years.
Up until now it has been generally believed that most of the Earth's earliest creatures were rather on the small side, but the finding of a 1m-long fish that lived nearly 200 million years before the dinosaurs appeared has turned this idea on its head.

Known as Megamastax amblyodus ( which means Big Mouth Blunt Tooth ), this ancient species would have fed on smaller animals as it prowled the prehistoric seas.

Thought to be the earliest vertebrate apex predator ever discovered in the fossil record, Big Mouth was a lot larger than anything else in the ocean at the time.

Scientists believe that competition among fish may have contributed to its abnormal size.

"During the Silurian period, the South China Sea, then at the equator, was the cradle of early jawed vertebrates, thus the ecological competition among these creatures was very intense," said study co-author Min Zhu.

Source: Discovery news | Comments (22)

Tags: Big Mouth, Fish

Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #13 Posted by Ratbiter on 17 June, 2014, 5:52
Unless the title has changed I don't think it was misleading at all, It doesn't mention any sized animal. It asked a question "how large" which is why I read the artical as I came looking for the answer, although I was hoping for info on land animals.
Comment icon #14 Posted by Silent Trinity on 17 June, 2014, 6:44
We had a large pond into which we put a small Ghost Koi Carp some years ago... that thing ended up not much smaller than that lol....ate all our other fish too I was kind of hoping that '1m' meant 1 mile ...... now that would be a S H I T SCARY fish!!!!
Comment icon #15 Posted by paperdyer on 17 June, 2014, 14:35
I don't call a fish an animal. I was expecting something larger than a dino. One meter log is a good-sized fish, but nothing extraordinary.
Comment icon #16 Posted by maximusnow on 17 June, 2014, 19:05
I bet that the Big Mouth Blunt Tooth fish was photographed closer to the camera than the scientist, to make it look 1-M long.
Comment icon #17 Posted by LucidElement on 18 June, 2014, 3:51
How do scientists even know where to go looking for a fossil like this? That's the big question to me lol. Or how is it they even knew where to look for a 400 million year old fossil. It's not like they accidently stumbled over it .
Comment icon #18 Posted by MisterMan on 18 June, 2014, 11:13
Why not?
Comment icon #19 Posted by qxcontinuum on 7 July, 2014, 5:31
You gotta love these estimations.... 400 millions years ago... Wow my bones will turn into sand in just 50 year after i die, but the precious fish bones survived this, much the scientist ! Lol gotta love the carbon isotope dating formula.... So much scientifically prone to be wrong...
Comment icon #20 Posted by Likely Guy on 7 July, 2014, 6:13
No, they wouldn't.
Comment icon #21 Posted by aquatus1 on 7 July, 2014, 8:35
You can...feel...the willful ignorance just radiating off of you. It's not even the utter lack of knowledge in concept, let alone detail. It's the utter disdain for even the idea that anything you don't personally known must be derisively laughed at. Like you are setting up to mock anyone who would consider learning more about the scientific world around them.
Comment icon #22 Posted by Frank Merton on 7 July, 2014, 8:49
One finds fossils from any given period by looking for geological formations that formed during that period that are now on the surface weathering away. This gives one the general time frame and there are a variety of dating methods available now that puts you within a million years or so of the actual date.

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