Strange, primitive shark-like fish unlike any vertebrate ever discovered

An animation of the ancient “shark” Fanjingshania renovata swimming. (Image credit: IVPP/Chinese Academy of Sciences)

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Researchers in China have discovered the remains of a 439-million-year-old shark-like fish with unusual features that “set it apart from any known vertebrate,” or animal with a backbone. The strange creature, which is covered in spines and “bony armour”, is the oldest undisputed vertebrate ever discovered, according to a new study.

Scientists discovered the remains of the newly identified, extinct species in the Rongxi Formation, a famous fossil site in Guizhou Province, southern China. The researchers named the species Fanjingshania renovataafter a nearby mountain known as Fanjingshan.

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