skip to Main Content

Imaging at ANSTO has supported research led by Curtin University which has discovered the oldest 3D heart of a 380 million year old fossilized fish

Researchers have discovered a 380 million year old heart – the oldest ever found – alongside a separate fossilized stomach, intestine and liver in an ancient jawed fish, shedding new light on the evolution of our own body.

The new searchpublished today in Sciencefound that the position of organs in the body of arthrodires – an extinct class of armored fish that flourished during the Devonian period from 419.2 million years ago to 358.9 million years ago – is similar to modern shark anatomy, offering vital new evolutionary clues. .

With the help of scientists from ANSTO in Sydney and the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility in France, the researchers used neutron beams at ANSTO and synchrotron X-rays to scan the specimens still embedded in the calcareous concretions. . They were able to construct three-dimensional images of the soft tissues inside based on the different densities of minerals deposited by the bacteria and the surrounding rock matrix.

The morphology of the cardiac region in arthrodires. (A to D) The heart modeled from NTμCT WAM 2020.2.1, showing the atrium (A), red-stained atrium (B), ventricle (C), and red-stained ventricle (D). (E) Carbonate nodule showing the relationship between the core and the dermal plates. (F and G) Pericardial region modeled from PPC-SRμCT MV P230859 with the dermal plaques modeled (F) and showing only the heart and cardiac vessels (G). (H to K) The heart showing details of the conus arteriosus, atrium and ventricle modeled from NTμCT of WAM 2020.2.1 in dorsal (H), ventral (I), anterior (J) and posterior ( K). Scale bars, 1 cm. Credit: Authors SCIENCE Sep 15, 2022 Vol 377, Number 6612

“The Gogo Fish represents one of the best-preserved Late Devonian (about 375 million years ago) fossil sites in the world, with 3D preservation of original bones and mineralized muscles and organs,” said Dr. Joseph Bevitt, co-author. on the article published in Science today.

“However, the preferred method of removing the fossil from the surrounding rock, acetic acid digestion, destroys soft tissue and organs.”

When Principal Investigator John Curtin, Professor Emeritus Kate Trinajstic, of Curtin School of Molecular and Life Sciences and the Western Australia Museum, split open a rock nodule the size of a fist, she discovered that it contained an exceptionally well-fossilized fossil fish.

“Because neutrons have a unique ability to penetrate through rock and have a unique sensitivity to the presence of organic remains, the research team used ANSTO’s high-resolution DINGO instrument to nondestructively visualize the embedded soft tissue remains, revealing the world’s oldest 3D heart,” Dr. Bevitt explained.

“In this case, the heart tissue stood out bright white among the rest of the remains. Neutron data revealed that the heart was complex and S-shaped, consisting of two chambers with the smaller one above .

“The heart of this ancient fish was located under its gills, like sharks today.

Gogo Fishing Team

(left to right) Dr Alice Clement, Prof Kate Trinajstic, Prof John Long and Dr Joseph Bevitt

“Neutron imaging at ANSTO is increasingly being used by the paleontological community to reveal internal body structures that are not visible with traditional X-ray tomography,” Dr. Bevitt said.

Professor Trinajstic said the find was remarkable given that soft tissues of ancient species were rarely preserved, and finding 3D preservation was even rarer.

Collaborating organizations also included flinders university, Victoria Museums, Uppsala University (WE), European synchrotron radiation facility (France), Monash Universityand the South Australia Museum.

The Gogo Formation, in the Kimberley region of Western Australia where the fossils were collected, was originally a large reef.

Back To Top