Scientists from Curtin University in Australia have found the well-preserved heart and organs of a fish that lived 380 million years ago. It is now on record that the oldest heart in the world was found in a fossilized prehistoric fish that belonged to the arthrodites class – the fish existed 419.2 million and 358.9 million years ago in the Devonian period of the Paleozoic era.
Known as the Gogo, the fossilized extinct fish was found in the Gogo Formation, a sedimentary deposit in the Kimberly region of Western Australia. Several prehistoric fish and their internal organs have been discovered in the region – preserved by the rich mineral deposit in the region. Researchers used neutron beams and X-ray microtomography to create virtual 3D models to be able to obtain how the gogo looked millions of years ago.
In the study published in the journal Science, Professor Kate Trinajstic, a vertebrate paleontologist at Curtin University and lead author of the study, said the fossil was first discovered in 2008 during an expedition to Gogo Formation. She said studying the gogo showed that it was among the earliest fish from which many fish today evolved, and maybe humans too.
Dr. Zerina Johanson of the Natural History Museum in London, UK, said the position of the gogo’s heart – nearly below its jaws, like that of sharks – with two chambers one on top of each other looked that the structure of the human heart. The shape and position of the heart made the gogo a very fast predator fish that was able to optimize its energy use, and the position of the lungs down its neck ensured it was a very efficient fish.
“A lot of the things you see we still have in our own bodies; jaws and teeth, for example,” Johanson said. “We have the first appearance of the front fins and the fins at the back, which eventually evolved into our arms and legs. There are many things going on in these placoderms (arthrodites) that we see evolving to ourselves today, such as the neck, the shape and arrangement of the heart, and its position in the body.”
Professor Per Ahlberg of Uppsala University in Sweden and a co-author of the study said all creatures on earth are related through evolution at the most fundamental level.
“That we ourselves and all the other living organisms with which we share the planet have developed from a common ancestry through a process of evolution is not an incidental fact,” Ahlberg said. “It is the most profound truth of our existence. We are all related, in the most literal sense.”