A team of researchers has discovered what appear to be the fossilized remains of the first carnivore fish.
The fish appears to be a precursor of the well-known piranha species. Similar to their modern counterparts, they have distinctively sharp teeth, which were used in order to tear the flesh of other fish. Fossilized remains of attacked fish were also found, and visible damage was present as their fins had holes and teeth marks. This is a mark of intelligence as consuming the fins would the prey immobile and available for later consumption.
After analyzing they observed the existence of long and pointy teeth on the outer surface of a bone that formed on the roof of the mouth. Another interesting feature is presence of triangle-shaped teeth with serrated edges along the margins of the inferior jaw.
Based on the shape and pattern of the teeth, jaw particularities and the way in which it works, the team concluded that the fish consumed a meat-based diet.
It is also related to another group of fishes, well-known for their crushing teeth. What sets it apart is the fact that it appeared during the Jurassic period. It was uncommon for bony fishes to consume other fishes during that particular era, as they would tend to eat invertebrates or swallow the prey completely. Biting developed much later, and this raises some challenging evolutionary questions.
Is the discovery relevant?
Yes it is, since it ties modern piranhas to an ancestor that is over 150 million years old. The site from which the fossils were recovered is one of the most popular fossil locations and it seems that it still has some surprises up its sleeve.
Are they that dangerous?
It depends. While they usually prey on dead or dying creatures, they may attack almost anything when they are starved. Surprisingly, there are subspecies that predominantly consume seeds, and others are vegan.
Is it possible to eat them?
Yes, as they are considered a delicacy in some parts of South Africa.
Sarah Is a researcher and law student at York University (TORONTO). She has worked as the Director of the Graduate Lawyering Program. After school Sarah worked for an American law firms in Moscow, Russia for three years. She graduated from Columbia Law School, Columbia School of International and Public Affairs and Harvard College. she research interest is in human rights and health law, with a particular focus on the law and policy of vaccination.