06.02.2018 change 06.02.2018

Świętokrzyskie/Discovery of the remains of huge Devonian armoured fish

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The remains of Dunkleosteus - a huge Devonian armoured fish - have been discovered in the village Płucki near Łagów (Świętokrzyskie). This is one of the largest marine predators in the history of life on Earth, says Dr. Piotr Szrek from the Polish Geological Institute-National Research Institute.

"This is the first discovery of Dunkleosteus remains in Europe that is beyond any doubt" - Dr. Piotr Szrek said at a press conference in Łagów. He added that the discover was a result of 20 years of paleontological work carried out in the area.

The remains of three Dunkleosteuses of various sizes were discovered in Płucki. "The head of the largest one was over 60 cm long, and the whole specimen measured six to seven meters. The five-meter Dunkleosteus is the most complete, with about 40% of its skeleton preserved" - noted Szrek.

The scientist estimates the age of the find at approx. 370 million years. He adds that Devonian armoured fish are among the largest marine predators in the history of the Earth. "This was the first vertebrate that reached a very large size and was a predator at the top of the food pyramid in the Devonian sea. After reaching several meters in length, it did not have many enemies in the water. It was the hunt king" - Szrek told PAP.

The predators of this species did not have teeth. "Special, self-sharpening edges of jaws served that function. They are still so sharp that I cut myself while examining one of the specimens. They had jaw bones that brushed against each other when the animal opened and closed its jaw, sharpening the same way we sharpen knives today" - added the palaeontologist.

Fish of this genus reached lengths ranging from a dozen centimetres to even 20 meters. However, these are only estimates. "We can only estimate that they could reach such sizes, because the remains of these largest individuals are very incomplete. In Cleveland, Ohio there are specimens with estimated length of about 10 meters. In my opinion, the specimen found in Poland is the largest of those documented to date" - said the employee of the Polish Geological Institute - National Research Institute.

Mayor of Łagów Paweł Marwicki wants to use Dr. Szrek's discovery to promote the commune. "There is an idea is o create a didactic trail. We are also considering creating a place where exhibits related to armoured fish and other geological treasures found in our municipality could be displayed" - Marwicki told PAP.

He hopes to acquire EU funding for the project called the Natural Prehistory Centre.

The remains of Devonian fish found in Świętokrzyskie will on display at a temporary exhibition at the Museum of Geology in Warsaw in late February. (PAP)

Author: Janusz Majewski

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