Bizarre primordial fish is unlike any other animal in Earth's history

Paleontologists in China have discovered the remains of a 439-million-year-old shark-like fish. Some of its features

distinguish it from any known vertebrate in the history of the Earth.

Scientists discovered the remains recentlyan identified extinct species in the Rongxi Formation, where fossils are often found. It is located in Guizhou province in southern China. The researchers named the species Fanjingshania renovata after a nearby mountain known as Fanjingshan (Fanjingshan or Mount Fanjing).

A team of scientists collected thousands of fossilized fragments of the skeleton, scales and teeth, and then painstakingly recreated the appearance of an ancient fish. Their findings are published online in the journal Nature.

Image Credit: IVPP/Chinese Academy of Sciences

F.renovata belongs to an extinct group of shark-like creatures known as acanthodes, also known as "spiny sharks". They have spiny fins and bony plates surrounding their shoulder regions.

On the genealogical tree of fish, Acanthodes liesomewhere between the chondrichthians, which include modern sharks and rays, and the osteichthians, or bony fish. Acanthodes have a body structure similar to a shark, but their bony skin plates and skeletons are similar to those of bony fish. The researchers suspect that F. renovata may be a close relative of the unknown common ancestor of the two groups.

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