HUMANS evolved from an armoured shark that lived 439 million years ago, researchers claim.
Scientists reckon the bizarre beast could be our oldest jawed ancestor.
Humans evolved from an armoured shark that lived 439 million years ago, researchers claim[/caption]
The fish, named Fanjingshania renovata, grew to up to 2½ft. It was covered in bony plates and bristled with spines on its fins.
It has been reconstructed from thousands of tiny skeletal fragments unearthed at a prehistoric animal graveyard in southern China.
The fish was an early member of the modern gnathostomes, meaning “jaw-mouths”.
They include tens of thousands of living vertebrates, ranging from fish to birds, reptiles and mammals.
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Fanjingshania belonged to a group known as chondrichthyans — fish such as sharks and rays with a skeleton made of cartilage.
It lived before the split between the earliest sharks and the first bony fishes — a lineage that eventually included humans.
But its bones show evidence of extensive changes typically associated with skeletal development in bony fish — and humans.
One of the study’s authors, Professor Zhu Min, of the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing, said: “This is the oldest jawed fish with known anatomy.
“The new data allowed us to place Fanjingshania in the family tree of early vertebrates and gain much needed information about the evolutionary steps leading to the origin of important vertebrate adaptations such as jaws, sensory systems and paired appendages.”
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