Recently, news revealed that scientists discovered two big-mouthed fish from the same era as dinosaurs.
A group of researchers claimed they found evidence of two fish species that existed more than 90 million years ago. The fish species belonged to the Rhinconichtys genus and are believed to be plankton eating fish.
Rhinconichtys is an extremely rare genus; the only known species of this genus was found in England. Experts thought that Rhinconichtys were limited to a single species. However, their recent findings show there are three separate species of Rhinconichtys.
Kenshu Shimada, paleobiologist at DePaul University, explained they named the genus Rhinconichtys in 2012, based on the single species found in England. Now he thinks the genus might be diverse and globally distributed. The newly found fish species have a giant mouth and they are believed to have lived in the same era as dinosaurs, the Cretaceous Period.
The specimens were estimated to be around 6.5 feet long and they consumed large quantities of plankton. One of the fish fossils was discovered in Colorado, while the other one’s skull was found in Japan. The previously known species was called Rhinconichtys taylori; it was found in Europe.
Shimada said that:
“Based on our new study, we now have three different species of Rhinconichthys from three separate regions of the globe, each represented by a single skull […] This tells just how little we still know about the biodiversity of organisms through the Earth’s history.”
Rhinconichtys were part of a bony fish group called pachycormids, the biggest bony fish that ever existed. Pachycormids had a bone structure known as hyomandibulae which formed a huge oar-shaped lever. This lever allowed the fish to open its jaw extremely wide.
This way Rhinconichtys could get more plankton-rich water into its mouth. The planktivorous diet is also known as suspension feeding which is common in some marine vertebrates today such as Blue Whale, Manta Ray and Whale Shark.
Rhinconichtys means a fish which resembles the Whale Shark, Rhincondon. The newly found big-mouthed fish from the same era as dinosaurs have been named Rhinconicthys purgatoirensis and Rhinconicthys uyenoi. This new study, “Highly specialized suspension-feeding bony fish Rhinconichthys (Actinopterygii: Pachycormiformes) from the mid-Cretaceous of the United States, England and Japan,” will appear in the international scientific journal Cretaceous Research.
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