3-D scans of fossils suggest new fish family tree | Science News

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3-D scans of fossils suggest new fish family tree

Analysis of specimens from China implies ray-finned fishes are younger than previously thought

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2:17pm, September 18, 2017
Polypterus

PRIMITIVE FISH  Polypterus (shown) is a living member of a large group of vertebrates called ray-finned fishes. New evidence suggests that ray-finned fishes arose about 360 million years ago, after a major extinction event, then their diversity exploded.

When it comes to some oddball fish, looks can be deceiving.

Polypterus, today found only in Africa, and its close kin have generally been considered some of the most primitive ray-finned fishes alive, thanks in part to skeletal features that resemble those on some ancient fish. Now a new analysis of fish fossils of an early polypterid relative called Fukangichthys unearthed in China suggests that those features aren’t so old. The finding shakes up the evolutionary tree of ray-finned fishes, making the group as a whole about 20 million to 40 million years younger than thought, researchers propose online August 30 in Nature.

Ray-finned fishes named for the spines, or rays, that support their fins —

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