Australia: The Land Where Time Began

A biography of the Australian continent 

Oldest Mother                                                                                                       

Scientists have discovered a 380 million year old fossil placoderm in the process of giving birth, with the umbilical chord still attached. Nature 453, 650-652 (29 May 2008)

The fish, a ptyctodontid placoderm, Materpiscis attenboroughi is the oldest known live-bearing vertebrate. It was discovered in the Gogo Formation of Western Australia, dated to the Late Devonian about 380 million years ago. They also found another placoderm in the same formation, Austroptyctodus gardineri, which had 3 embryos inside it. Placoderms had already provided evidence of copulation, the new discoveries shows just how advanced the reproductive system of these extinct fish was, comparable to that of some modern sharks and rays. This is further evidence that the placoderms were probably the first animals to evolve internal fertilisation and viviparity.

Sources & Further reading

  1. Nature 453, 650-652 (29 May 2008)
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