Extraordinary ‘Big-Mouthed’ Fish Species' Fossils Discovered By Scientists

Posted: Feb 8 2016, 8:54pm CST | by , Updated: Feb 9 2016, 9:37pm CST, in News | Latest Science News


Extraordinarily ‘Big-Mouthed’ Fish Species' Fossils Discovered by Scientists
Artist's impression of two new plankton-eating fossil fish species, of the genus called Rhinconichthys, which lived in the oceans of the Cretaceous Period. Credit: Robert Nicholls

Researchers found fossil remains of two giant mouthed fish species that lived 92 million years ago.

Scientists have discovered fossil remains of not just one but two giant-mouthed fishes from the Cretaceous Period. The fish species belonged to the genus Rhinconichthys and swam the oceans almost 92 million years ago when dinosaurs were roaming the Earth.

Rhinconichthys is an exceptionally rare genus of bony fish which existed during Cretaceous period.  Previously, it had only one fish species from England but new two new fossils discovered from Colorado and Japan has expanded the number as well as geographical range of the genus. 

“I was in a team that named Rhinconichthysin 2010, which based on a single species from England but had no idea then the genus was so diverse and so globally distributed.” Kenshu Shimada, a paleobiologist at DePaul University and one of the researchers involved in the study said.

The newly discovered species have been named R. purgatoirensis and R. uyenoi, respectively and they used to eat small organisms called planktons. Rhinconichthys are estimated to be more than 6 feet long and the fossilized skull of one fish species suggests that it had a remarkable ability of opening its extra wide mouth like a parachute and gulping down a mouthful of planktons, similar to the way sharks open their mouth. The name Rhinconichthys also come from a shark called Rhincodon.

Suspension feeding or plankton-based diet has been observed in very few aquatic animals today including Blue Whale, Manta Ray and Whale Shark. Discovery of two fish species from dinosaur era that fed on organisms provides new insight into the eating behavior of the marine animals of that time.

“Based on our new study, we now have three different species of Rhinconichthys from three separate regions of the globe, each represented by a single skull,” said Shimada. “This tells us just how little we still know about the biodiversity of organisms through the Earth’s history. It’s really mindboggling.”

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Hira Bashir covers daily affairs around the world.




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