Scientists Discovered 380-Million-Year-Old Air-Breathing Fish

Harajicadectes zhumini
  • Scientists led by Flinders University paleontologist Dr. Brian Choo discovered a fossil fish named Harajicadectes zhumini in remote fossil fields west of Alice Springs, Australia.
  • This lobe-finned fish, approximately 380 million years old, had large fangs and bony scales and is related to fishes that gave rise to early limbed tetrapods.
  • Harajicadectes had large openings on the top of its skull, believed to facilitate surface air-breathing, similar to other ancient Tetrapodomorph lineages.
  • The ability to supplement gill respiration with aerial oxygen may have provided an adaptive advantage during a period of decreased atmospheric oxygen in the mid-Devonian era.
  • The discovery, published in the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology, is the result of 50 years of exploration and research, with the most complete specimen found during Flinders University’s 2016 expedition.