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Living Fossil Fish Discovered

Posted by: Loren Coleman on August 17th, 2011

The Proceedings of Royal Society B, 2011, is noting the discovery of a new species of fish.  Their article is published here, and is entitled, “A ‘living fossil’ eel (Anguilliformes: Protoanguillidae, fam. nov.) from an undersea cave in Palau.”
The abstract follows:
We report the discovery of an enigmatic, small eel-like fish from a 35 m-deep fringing-reef cave in the western Pacific Ocean Republic of Palau that exhibits an unusual suite of morphological characters. Many of these uniquely characterize the Recent members of the 19 families comprising the elopomorph order Anguilliformes, the true eels. Others are found among anguilliforms only in the Cretaceous fossils, and still others are primitive with respect to both Recent and fossil eels. Thus, morphological evidence explicitly places it as the most basal lineage (i.e. the sister group of extant anguilliforms). Phylogenetic analysis and divergence time estimation based on whole mitogenome sequences from various actinopterygians, including representatives of all eel families, demonstrate that this fish represents one of the most basal, independent lineages of the true eels, with a long evolutionary history comparable to that of the entire Anguilliformes (approx. 200 Myr). Such a long, independent evolutionary history dating back to the early Mesozoic and a retention of primitive morphological features (e.g. the presence of a premaxilla, metapterygoid, free symplectic, gill rakers, pseudobranch and distinct caudal fin rays) warrant recognition of this species as a ‘living fossil’ of the true eels, herein described as Protoanguilla palau genus et species
nov. in the new family Protoanguillidae.

About Loren Coleman
Loren Coleman is one of the world’s leading cryptozoologists, some say “the” leading. Certainly, he is acknowledged as the current living American researcher and writer who has most popularized cryptozoology in the late 20th and early 21st centuries. Starting his fieldwork and investigations in 1960, after traveling and trekking extensively in pursuit of cryptozoological mysteries, Coleman began writing to share his experiences in 1969. An honorary member of Ivan T. Sanderson’s Society for the Investigation of the Unexplained in the 1970s, Coleman has been bestowed with similar honorary memberships of the North Idaho College Cryptozoology Club in 1983, and in subsequent years, that of the British Columbia Scientific Cryptozoology Club, CryptoSafari International, and other international organizations. He was also a Life Member and Benefactor of the International Society of Cryptozoology (now-defunct). Loren Coleman’s daily blog, as a member of the Cryptomundo Team, served as an ongoing avenue of communication for the ever-growing body of cryptozoo news from 2005 through 2013.


7 Responses to “Living Fossil Fish Discovered”

  1. Redrose999 responds:

    AWESOME News! Gotta love those fossil fish! Exciting stuff! Thanks Loren! My kids love this one.

  2. PikeBigfoot responds:

    Very cool!

  3. Hapa responds:

    This is the Coelacanth of the 21rst century, a crypto-zoological breakthrough. Excellent job :)

  4. springheeledjack responds:

    Yep, fossil fish are the pinnacle…it doesn’t prove the existence of still living dinosaurs, but it kicks the door wide open.

    That’s why I have so much trouble with people who talk about the fossil record and how it supposedly “proves” that things like mososaurs, plesiosaurs, sauropods, etc. didn’t live into the present…the fossil record is nowhere near complete. We have representations from regions and areas, but we most certainly do NOT have all the facts on the fossil record. It’s another invalid argument against cryptids.

    The discovery of these kinds of creatures opens up the possibility and the probability that there’s most definitely still a lot down there that we have no clue about–unless you take into account all the plethera of sea monster sightings:)

  5. springheeledjack responds:

    And just as an add on…I personally don’t think that we’re looking at genuine dinos that survived the extinctions, but I think there’s a high probability that critters from those times evolved to adapt to their environments during those upheavals and if we ever catch one, we’ll be able to trace its lineage back to their dino-ancestors.

  6. Nominay responds:

    this is pretty cool, and inspiring

  7. mystery_man responds:

    springheeledjack- Indeed, the fossil record is patchy at best, and fossilization is actually a very rare occurrence. It is amazing how many new fossils turn up, and how many new animals are known from fossils that were found but packed away without anyone realizing just what they were looking at at the time. Someone dusts off an old fossil in some museum storehouse, takes another look, and BAM, amazing “new” discovery.

    In some cases, a particular fossil will shatter some of our preconceptions of how an animal evolved.

    I typically have no problem with a lack of fossil record for a cryptid per say. Where I usually take pause is when not only is there no fossil record of a creature, but absolutely no record of any related animals, intermediate animals, or anything even remotely resembling the cryptid in question.

    It’s not a sure sign that the cryptid in question can’t possibly exist, but it is odd. It is one thing to be lacking a fossil for something, but quite another to have a complete evolutionary blank of anything even remotely like it anywhere in the fossil records of an area. This is a bit harder to explain.

    But yeah, it is hard to use such an incomplete and sketchy record to “prove” something can’t have survived into the present day. Then again, as is usual in science, it is not up to the naysayers to prove us wrong but rather for us to prove the proposed animal exists. The onus of proof is on the one who proposes something. Skepticism is the default.

    So a fossil of a mososaur or sauropod demonstrably existing past their extinction orthodoxy certainly wouldn’t hurt. :)



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