Gigantic, armoured B. rex fish identified from ancient fossil

  • Move over, T. rex ! Scientists have discovered B rex — a 370 million-year-old species of giant fish with external, bony armoured plates covering their head, shoulders and front fins.
  • Researchers identified the new fish from fossils first discovered in 2000 in Canada.
  • The site features fossils from the Devonian Period, a time pre-dating most dinosaurs by hundreds of millions of years.

‘King’ fish

  • The new rex — Latin for ‘king’ — belongs in the group ‘Antiarchi’, which are extinct fish.
  • Bothriolepis rex [B. rex ] extends the range of known body sizes for the group Antiarchi.
  • “The large body size and the thick, dense armour present a unique opportunity to address questions about the lifestyle of this unusual group of armoured swimmers.
  • B. rex ’s size eclipses the previous king of the antiarchs, Bothriolepis maxima .
  • Its body length is estimated at 1.7 metres — about 30 per cent longer than B. maxima ’s estimated length.
  • The large, thick plates on B. rex ’s head were found alongside fossils of other species with thick head plates, suggesting that these were necessary to survive the “stabbing bites of large sarcopterygians”, which were predatory fish from the same time period.
  • Bothriolepis is a group of bottom-dwelling armoured aquatic vertebrates.
  • The heavy, compact bones could have also solved buoyancy issues for a fish that spent most of its time on the bottom.
  • Skull shape changes with body size in Bothriolepis.
  • “Despite the gigantic size of the B. rex , its skull doesn’t reflect our expectations for the size. Instead, the skull shape is suggestive of a smaller Bothriolepis.
  • The finding may alter the way we understand the size-shape relationships in Bothriolepis.
  • Although popular culture tends to think “bigger is better” when it comes to these prehistoric beasts, it turns out that size may have done B. rex in.
  • All antiarchs are extinct by the end of the Devonian Period.

Source: The Hindu

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