China has a treasure trove of fossils, including the oldest known teeth in the world. Some fossils may give scientists clues into how aquatic creatures evolved.
According to Min Zhu (paleontologist at the Chinese Academy of Sciences, and lead researcher on the team), the fossils were first discovered by a field team in 2019.
Fossils date back to the Silurian Period (443 million years ago to 419 million years ago) when backboned animals still swam on a mostly water-covered planet. According to some fossils, they are in excellent condition for their age.
Due to the rare fossils, scientific discoveries from this period are still lacking.
Researchers discovered 14 million-year-old bones called teeth whorls. They had several teeth growing on them. Zhu said they were the earliest concrete evidence to date of jaws.
Another fossil included a shark-like creature with a bony front and a jawless fish. These will provide further insight into the evolution of ancient fins into arms, legs, and legs. Philip Donoghue from the University of Bristol, one of the authors mentioned in the articles, stated that this fossil was rare, and included the entire body rather than just the head.
The latest series of Nature articles, published Wednesday in Nature, details recent discoveries by scientists as they dig into various Chinese fossils including the teeth.
Research has shown that the Silurian Period was a significant shift in evolution for our back-boned ancestors. They began to develop teeth and jaws during this period. This adaptation enabled them to hunt prey rather than scouring the bottom for food, like other bottom-dwelling animals.
Donoghue stated that this change also led to further anatomical changes, including the addition of fins.
Donoghue stated, “It’s just an interface between the Old World & the New World.”