Saturday, May 31, 2008

Placoderms were first live-bearers

I like placoderms in general: in addition to being really cool-looking, the armored fishes are scientifically fascinating and important. A new species from Australia confirms that the placoderms were, in addition to being the first sexually dimporphic vertebrates (OK, we knew that), were the first to bear live young (we DIDN'T know that.) The fossil is so well preserved an embryo attached to an umbilical cord is discernable. Materpiscis attenboroughi, 380 million years old, gets my vote as the fossil find of the year so far.

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