#AceHistory2ResearchNews – June 12 – (Reuters) – This is certainly not just another fish tale. A tiny jawless fish that lived more than half a billion years ago is providing scientists with a treasure trove of information about the very dawn of vertebrate life on Earth.
1 OF 2. Metasprigina fossil from Marble Canyon, which lived about 514 to 505 million years ago during the Cambrian period is shown in this handout image.
CREDIT: REUTERS/JEAN-BERNARD CARON/ROM/HANDOUT VIA REUTERS
Researchers on Wednesday described about 100 fossil specimens of the fish unearthed at the Burgess Shale site in the Canadian Rockies and other locales, many exquisitely preserved showing the primitive body structures that would later evolve into jaws.
2 OF 2. An artist illustration of Metaspriggina, which lived about 514 to 505 million years ago during the Cambrian period is shown in this handout image. CREDIT: REUTERS/MARIANNE COLLINS/CONWAY MORRIS AND CARON/HANDOUT VIA REUTERS
The fish, Metaspriggina, lived about 515 to 500 million years ago amid the astonishing flourishing of complex life during the Cambrian Period. While two fragmentary specimens had been found previously, the new ones revealed unprecedented detail about one of the earliest known vertebrates.
Creatures like Metaspriggina began the lineage of vertebrates – animals with backbones – that later would include the whole range of jawed fishes, amphibians, reptiles, birds and mammals including people.
"It allows an understanding of where we come from and what our most distant relatives might have looked like," said Jean-Bernard Caron, a paleontologist at the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto. "Because of its great age – more than half a billion year old – Metaspriggina provides a deep down view at the origins of the vertebrates."
Read More: Reuters (History News)
The study was published in the journal Nature.
(Reporting by Will Dunham; Editing by Tom Brown)