Small Fish :
The fish that we consume every day once had a serious-reputed ancestors millions of years ago.
The ancestors of this small fish were monsters…
Anchovies are some of the most commonly consumed fishes around the world. They are commonly found in warm marine waters across the planet.
These small fishes do not exceed a length of 8 inches but some may grow a few more inches in some recorded cases.
Image credit: Flickr
They are of high commercial value as most of the catch is canned, turned into paste, salted, and distilled to prepare fish sauces in some countries. These small fishes which are now easy to catch were once ruthless predators of the ocean.
Recent studies of the specimens revealed that the ancient Anchovies had dagger-like teeth to grip and rip the flesh of its prey. The 2 newly examined specimens by researchers were equipped with sharp spiky teeth in their lower jaws and the upper jaws having one giant dagger-like saber tooth extending downwards like Dracula’s fangs, only bigger.
What surprised the researchers is that this single Sabertooth extending from the upper jaw wasn’t placed in the center but sat a little sideward to the center of the jaw suggesting they were designed to prey on other fishes [unlike any of today’s Anchovies (small fish) as they have very small teeth to feed on plankton] as per the reports published in Royal Society Open Science.
Paleontologist Alessio Capobianco of the University of Michigan exclaimed, “They have super tiny teeth. They look nothing like these things.”
These ancient marine predators’ were exceptionally large compared to their modern relatives(small fish) as one of the specimens measured more than a meter long while the Anchovies present today did not exceed 37 centimeters at top.
The research team performed a CT scan on the fossils to find out more of this predator’s morphology and revealed that both the ancestors as well as today’s relative shared few similar features.
They had a gaping maw just like the small fishes to gulp food. These ancient creatures were believed to have lived during the Eocene Epoch as the fossils date back roughly 50 million years old.
It was the period when the dinosaurs were shot to extinction. Researchers believe these predatory fishes might have evolved to fill the vacancy of the marine food-chain caused by the mass extinction event.
Capobianco said, “These were sort of failed experiments going on at the same time these saber-toothed anchovies didn’t survive to the modern-day.” But these predators may have been prey to the much bigger predators that ruled the ocean at that time…