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Body plan pushed back hundreds of millions of years

The vertebrate family tree is all shook up, we hear, by a fossil hagfish (right: Cretaceous hagfish fossil, 100 mya/Tetsuto Miyashita, University of Chicago). From ScienceDaily: Paleontologists at the University of Chicago have discovered the first detailed fossil of a hagfish, the slimy, eel-like carrion feeders of the ocean. The 100-million-year-old fossil helps answer questions about when these ancient, jawless fish branched off the evolutionary tree from the lineage that gave rise to modern-day jawed vertebrates, including bony fish and humans. The fossil, named Tethymyxine tapirostrum,is a 12-inch long fish embedded in a slab of Cretaceous period limestone from Lebanon. It fills a 100-million-year gap in the fossil record and shows that hagfish are more closely related to the blood-sucking lamprey Read More ›