Michael Coates leads discovery about chimaera fossil

Reconstruction of the early chimaera Dwykaselachus oosthuizeni. Image credit: Kristen Tietjen.

Professor Michael Coates (Organismal Biology & Anatomy, Committee on Evolutionary Biology) co-authored a study published in Nature with South African colleague Robert Gess at Rhodes University. Recent UChicago Biosciences graduate Kate Criswell (PhD'16, Committee on Evolutionary Biology) contributed as well. The fossil under examination was a symmoriiform chondrichthyan from about 280 million years ago.

The fossil was first discovered in South Africa in the 1980s by an amateur paleontologist and farmer named Roy Oosthuizen, then archived in the South African Museum in Cape Town. When Gess started scanning Devonian shark fossils in 2013, Coates encouraged him to investigate the symmoriiform.

The team was able to identify the animal as a chimaera, not a shark. This discovery will help scientists determine when these two groups diverged in the evolutionary record.

Read more about this discovery on the UChicago Science Life blog, at The Verge, and on Sci News.

Instagram Facebook Youtube