New Species of Fossil Fish Discovered with Huge MouthStephanie Stanton (Author) Published Date : Feb 11, 2016 18:35 ET
Two new fossil fish species have been found by researchers. The fish could swing open their jaws extremely wide, similar to a parachute.
The fish were in the Cretaceous Period, which was approximately 92 million years ago, when the planet was roamed by dinosaurs.
The fossil fish genus is called Rhinconichthys and was estimated to be over 6.5 feet in length and survived on plankton.
Rhinconichthys are very rare and known previously by just one species in England, said one of the researchers from Chicago s DePaul University Kenshu Shimada.
However, a skull was just discovered in Colorado along with a skull found in Japan that has been re-examined to triple the number of species in this genus and a hugely expanded geographical range.
The new species are named R. uyenoi and R. purgatoirensis. Based upon the new study, there are three different kinds of genus from three different regions of the world, with each represented by a single skull, said researchers.
Rhinconichthys is part of a bony, extinct fish group known as pachycormids, which have the biggest bony fish known to have lived.
This new study specifically focuses on the elusive forms of the fish group that consumed plankton.
The genus had very unusual features for a bony fish. One pair of bones on the fish was called the hyomandibulae and formed a huge oar-shaped lever that protruded and swung the jaws open very wide.
When opened wide, the mouth formed a parachute-like opening making it easy to suck in food in the plankton rich water, which is similar to sharks opening their mouth.
Researchers are not sure how the three different genuses were so scattered around the globe without any other species besides the three genuses.
New Species of Fossil Fish Discovered with Huge Mouth