Tuesday, 3 June 2008

News for the day - fish live birth fossil!

This is probably the most interesting thing in my Google reader this morning. Amazing how the occurrence of live birth in fishes was at least 375 million years ago or so! Pretty amazing, isn't it?

(Image as posted on REUTERS from handout by Museum Victoria, Melbourne)

This marks the oldest fossil record of live birth, and who's to say that laying eggs has to develop first and is a more "primitive" way of procreation? Interestingly enough, this particular species of armour-plated shark-like fish has been named Materpiscis attenboroughi ("materpiscis" meaning ‘mother fish’) in honour of Sir David Attenborough, my personal wildlife hero. He has been given this honor since he drew attention to the Gogo fossil sites in Kimberley, North Western Australia in the Life on Earth (1979) series. The fossil was discovered in a 2005 Museum Victoria expedition, and amazing that soft tissue such as the umbilical cord and york sac have actually been fossilized. (Soft tissue generally rots away the fastest, before fossilization can occur, which is why most fossils are bones and hard tissue)

This is just too exciting! Makes me itch to get myself on a plane for Down Under!

Links to some of the news articles:
Museum Victoria (Do check this one out as this has a nifty video showing how the tail-first birth may have occurred)
Discovery Channel news

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