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A Significant Find By Archaeologists Hint At Piranha Like Fish In Jurassic Era

The new fish is a most interesting example of convergent evolution

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Fossil Fish
A new piranha-like fish from Jurassic seas with sharp, pointed teeth that probably fed on the fins of other fishes is seen in this artist's reconstruction of a fossil which was discovered in southern Germany in this image released from Eichstaett, Bavaria, Germany. VOA

You can call it a prehistoric prequel.

Scientists said on Thursday they have unearthed in southern Germany the fossil of a fish that, with its mouth full of razor-sharp teeth, strongly resembled today’s piranhas, the stars of more than their fair share of Hollywood horror films. But this one lived during the Jurassic Period 152 million years ago.

Named Piranhamesodon pinnatomus, it is the earliest known example of a bony fish — as opposed to cartilaginous fish like sharks — able to slice flesh rather than simply swallowing prey, enabling it to attack victims larger than itself as piranhas can.

Piranhamesodon, about 3-1/2 inches (9 cm) long, lived in the sponge and coral reefs of the Solnhofen archipelago, a shallow tropical sea in what is now Bavaria. Piranhas are freshwater fish that inhabit rivers and lakes in South America.

Fossil Fish
A new piranha-like fish fossil from Jurassic seas with sharp, pointed teeth that probably fed on the fins of other fishes, discovered in southern Germany from the time of dinosaurs and from the same deposits that contained Archaeopteryx, is seen in this image released from Eichstaett, Bavaria, Germany on October 18, 2018

Piranhamesodon was small, but its mouth was worthy of a scary movie. It boasted long, pointed, dagger-like teeth along the outer edge of its upper jaw and at the front of its lower jaw. It also had triangular teeth with serrated cutting edges on the side of its lower jaw.

“We were stunned that this fish had teeth which are capable of slicing flesh. It comes from a group of fishes, the pycnodontids, that are famous for their crushing teeth,” said paleontologist Martina Kölbl-Ebert of the Jura-Museum Eichstätt in Germany, who led the research published in the journal Current Biology.

“It is like finding a sheep with a snarl like a wolf,” Kölbl-Ebert added.

The fossil came from the same Bavarian limestone deposits as Archaeopteryx, the earliest-known bird.

“From the same quarry, we also have a number of other fish which may have been the victims of Piranhamesodon. They show injuries to their fins and fin bases, some freshly wounded before they died and got fossilized, whereas others show completely healed injuries with regeneration of the fin,” Kölbl-Ebert said.

Fossil Fish
With Piranha-Like Teeth, This Prehistoric Predator Never Bit Off More Than It Could Chew.

While it shares traits with piranhas, Piranhamesodon was neither their long-ago ancestor nor related to them at all. The oldest-known piranhas lived around 15 million years ago.

Piranhamesodon is an example of a phenomenon called convergent evolution in which organisms independently acquire similar characteristics as a result of adapting to similar ecological niches or environments.

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“The new fish is a most interesting example of convergent evolution, evolving — for bony fish then — a completely new way of life,” Kölbl-Ebert said. (VOA)

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‘Safarnama’ App to “Capture the Way History in Delhi Actually Held within and under Stones” in Short Bursts

There are so many stories to be told and so many sounds to hear - and the app provides the medium to do this

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Safarnama, App, History
I wanted others to feel the energy of the city's fabric and heritage as I do. Pixabay

There’ve been guidebooks, bus tours, videos, pamphlets, walkabouts et al, but this ‘Safarnama’ app will “capture the way history in Delhi is actually held within and under the stones” in short bursts as you travel across the city.

“We wanted to capture the way history in Delhi is actually held within and under the stones – so much extraordinary heritage is embedded within small places and barely seen fragments,” said Dr Debs Sutton, a Senior Lecturer in Modern South Asian History at the Lancaster University, who developed the app with the aid of a grant from its Arts and Humanities Research Council and in association with Centre for the Study of Developing Studies (CSDS) in the national capital.

“I wanted others to feel the energy of the city’s fabric and heritage as I do. With that in mind we really thought about how technology could reanimate the city. There are so many stories to be told and so many sounds to hear – and the app provides the medium to do this. It’s a new way of seeing the past – a fantastic philosophy,” Sutton told IANS in an email interview from Lancaster.

Sutton lived in Delhi for five years and was captivated by the “energy and excitement” of the city when she studied for a PhD at the Jawaharlal Nehru University.

Safarnama, App, History
There’ve been guidebooks, bus tours, videos, pamphlets, walkabouts et al, but this ‘Safarnama’ app will “capture the way history in Delhi is actually held within and under the stones” in short bursts. Pixabay

The app contains images, texts, newspaper cuttings and audio recordings that tell the stories of Delhi in the years after the partition of the subcontinent that displaced millions of people and caused unparalleled violence. Delhi was transformed by this displacement.

Refugees were accommodated in monuments, mosques, temples and thousands of people opened their doors to offer shelter to those forced to leave their homes.

Refugee centres were opened to provide training and jobs to refugees and hundreds of new businesses were established across the city.

The app will enable users to hear these stories at the places they took place. As they near particular points of interest, travellers will receive a push notification. If they pass close enough – within a ‘trigger zone’ – their phone will automatically open the media associated with the place of interest.

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How did this project come about?

“The work evolved from my historical research on the ways in which Delhi heritage has been animated by and integrated into the city of Delhi in the twentieth century. Despite the best efforts of the Imperial government to set monuments apart from the everyday life of the city, monuments were always animated by all sorts of social (and often economic) occupation. This led me to think about the proliferation of physical heritage across the city. Notified monuments are only a small fraction of the extraordinarily rich and complex history of the city.

“Safarnama is an attempt to capture that variety and to allow new publics to engage with heritage. The app promotes that engagement as part of everyday mobility, rather than as occasional visits to monuments,” Sutton explained.

What did the development process involve?

Safarnama, App, History
We wanted to capture the way history in Delhi is actually held within and under the stones – so much extraordinary heritage is embedded within small places and barely seen fragments. Pixabay

“It was a long one! I was awarded funding by the Arts and Humanities Research Council in the UK to get together with others to think about the potential of digital heritage in complex and fast changing urban environments. We started out using a different software and about six months ago the software developer and I decided to start again and create a purpose-built authoring tool. This authoring tool and platform allows the creation and dissemination of different experiences.

“Other partners include INTACH Delhi, Hilal Ahmed at CSDS, the Centre for Community Knowledge at AUD (Ambedkar University Delhi) and the New Delhi-Berkley-based 1947 Partition Archive.

How were the monuments chosen?

“In all sorts of ways. I had been working on the occupation of mosques, mandirs and monuments by Partition refugees when I started thinking about the project. That is why I proposed the Partition City Delhi as the first, proof of concept digital heritage experience. Thereafter, we drew on a huge range of archives and scholarly publications,” Sutton said.

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What’s next?

An Industrial Heritage Experience for Mumbai and an app for Karachi, Sutton concluded. (IANS)