Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Laccognathus embryi

Ted Daeschler/ANSP (image), K. Monoyios (illo)

The 375-million-year-old Laccognathus embryi was d found at the same site as Tiktaalik, on Ellesmere Island in the remote Nunavut Territory of Arctic Canada. Laccognathus is a lobe-finned fish whose closest living relative is the lungfish. The creature probably grew to about 5 or 6 feet long and had a wide head with small eyes and robust jaws lined with large piercing teeth.

"Clearly these Late Devonian ecosystems were vicious places, and Laccognathus filled the niche of a large, bottom-dwelling, sit-and-wait predator with a powerful bite."

The researchers named the new species in honor of Dr. Ashton Embry, a Canadian geologist whose work in the Arctic islands paved the way for the authors' paleontological explorations.

The kind of fish known as Laccognathus (translates as pitted jaw) was previously only known from Eastern Europe. The discovery of Laccognathus embryi, the new species, extends the geographic range of Laccognathus to North America and confirms direct connection of the North American and European landmasses during the Devonian Period.

Published in JVP.