Father of flying fish found in China, palaeontologists say

Oct 31, 2012
This file photo shows a flying fish cruising in the Mediterranean, caught on camera in 2004. Palaeontologists in China say they have found the world's oldest flying fish, a strange, snub-nosed creature that glided over water in a bid to evade predators some 240 million years ago.

Palaeontologists in China say they have found the world's oldest flying fish, a strange, snub-nosed creature that glided over water in a bid to evade predators some 240 million years ago.

Fossils in Chinese museum collections have been dusted off, dated and categorised to reveal that the is a much older creature than thought, the palaeontologists wrote in the journal .

A specimen named Potanichthys xingyiensis lived in the Middle between 235 million and 242 million years ago and is up to 27 million years older than the previous record-holder, a species found in Europe, said the study.

The Triassic predated the Jurassic some 200 million to 150 million years ago, when dinosaurs thrived.

Father of flying fish found in China, palaeontologists say
Reconstruction of the phenotype of Potanichthys xingyiensis. (Image by WU Feixiang)

P. xingyiensis presents "the earliest evidence of over-water gliding in ," co-author Guang-Hui Xu of the Institute of Vertebrate Palaeontology and Palaeoanthropology in China told AFP.

It was already gliding some 80 million years before the emergence of birds, which are thought to be the descendants of small feathery dinosaurs.

Scientists believe that flying fish evolved out of a need to flee attack from predators.

The newly named specimen was only 15 centimetres (six inches) long and had four "wings"—two big, adapted and a smaller, auxiliary pelvic pair.

The fish had a large, forked tail fin that may have been used to launch it for over-water gliding.

Xu said this was the first flying fish ever to be found in Asia from the prehistoric Triassic period, a time when the super-continent Pangaea was starting to break up into the different landmasses we know today.

The only other Triassic flying fish hitherto known were somewhat younger and came from Austria and Italy.

Potanichthys xingyiensis is a composite term meaning "winged fish of Xingyi", the Chinese city near which the fossil was found.

Explore further: Changing dinosaur tracks spurs novel approach

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Flying fish glide as well as birds

Sep 10, 2010

How well do flying fish fly? This is the question that puzzled Haecheon Choi from Seoul National University, Korea. Measuring aerodynamic forces on dried darkedged-wing flying fish in a wind tunnel, Choi and ...

Chinese report important fish fossil find

May 05, 2006

Chinese researchers say a newly discovered fish species that lived more than 400 million years ago may represent a bridge between two vertebrate lineages.

New coelacanth find rewrites history of the ancient fish

May 02, 2012

(Edmonton) Coelacanths, an ancient group of fishes once thought to be long extinct, made headlines in 1938 when one of their modern relatives was caught off the coast of South Africa. Now coelacanths are making another splash ...

Recommended for you

Crowd-sourcing Britain's Bronze Age

6 hours ago

A new joint project by the British Museum and the UCL Institute of Archaeology is seeking online contributions from members of the public to enhance a major British Bronze Age archive and artefact collection.

Roman dig 'transforms understanding' of ancient port

6 hours ago

(Phys.org) —Researchers from the universities of Cambridge and Southampton have discovered a new section of the boundary wall of the ancient Roman port of Ostia, proving the city was much larger than previously ...

User comments : 0

More news stories

Newlyweds, be careful what you wish for

A statistical analysis of the gift "fulfillments" at several hundred online wedding gift registries suggests that wedding guests are caught between a rock and a hard place when it comes to buying an appropriate gift for the ...

Can new understanding avert tragedy?

As a boy growing up in Syracuse, NY, Sol Hsiang ran an experiment for a school project testing whether plants grow better sprinkled with water vs orange juice. Today, 20 years later, he applies complex statistical ...

Crowd-sourcing Britain's Bronze Age

A new joint project by the British Museum and the UCL Institute of Archaeology is seeking online contributions from members of the public to enhance a major British Bronze Age archive and artefact collection.

Roman dig 'transforms understanding' of ancient port

(Phys.org) —Researchers from the universities of Cambridge and Southampton have discovered a new section of the boundary wall of the ancient Roman port of Ostia, proving the city was much larger than previously ...

Tiny power plants hold promise for nuclear energy

Small underground nuclear power plants that could be cheaper to build than their behemoth counterparts may herald the future for an energy industry under intense scrutiny since the Fukushima disaster, the ...

Hand out money with my mobile? I think I'm ready

A service is soon to launch in the UK that will enable us to transfer money to other people using just their name and mobile number. Paym is being hailed as a revolution in banking because you can pay peopl ...