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2012 Archives

100 million-year-old fish discovered in Texas is new species

SMU Research

coelacanth - courtesy of National Geographic

This modern-day coelacanth is a larger version of its 100-million-year-old Texas ancester, discovered in Fort worth and identified by SMU paleontologist John F. Graf. (Photo courtesy of National Geographic Magazine)

November 1, 2012

By Margaret Allen
SMU News

A new species of coelacanth fish has been discovered in Texas.

John F. GrafPieces of tiny fossil skull found in Fort Worth have been identified as 100 million-year-old coelacanth bones, according to paleontologist John F. Graf, Southern Methodist University, Dallas.

The coelacanth has one of the longest lineages — 400 million years — of any animal. It is the fish most closely related to vertebrates, including humans.

The SMU specimen is the first coelacanth in Texas from the Cretaceous, said Graf, who identified the fossil. The Cretaceous geologic period extended from 146 million years ago to 66 million years ago.

Graf named the new coelacanth species Reidus hilli. . .

“These animals have one of the longest lineages of any vertebrates that we know,” Graf said.
The SMU specimen demonstrates there was greater diversity among coelacanths during the Cretaceous than previously known.
“What makes the coelacanth interesting is that they are literally the closest living fish to all the vertebrates that are living on land,” he said. “They share the most recent common ancestor with all of terrestrial vertebrates.”

Read more about the discovery, see photos of the fossil and watch a video about the research.

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