Thursday, April 09, 2009
Biting plates - pointed extensions of the jawbone that perform the function of teeth - have not been seen in some 300 million years, not since the days of the placoderms back in the Devonian. That's why a tiny (<25mm) minnow from Myanmar has startled icthyologists. In place of the teeth its nearest relatives lost some 50MYA, the male Danionella dracula sports tiny versions of the biting plates prehistoric monsters like Dunkleosteus terrelli carried. Discoverer Ralf Britz, of the Natural History Museum in London, says, "This fish is one of the most extraordinary vertebrates discovered in the last few decades."