After the mass extinction of dinosaurs about 66 million years ago, other organisms evolved to take their place,media reported. One of these new creatures is a giant saber-toothed anchovies. That’s the conclusion of a study published this week in The Royal Society Open Science.
“The disappearance of large predatory species leaves a gap in ecosystems that will allow new species to fill,” study lead author Alessio Capobianco of the University of Michigan said in a statement sent to Newsweek. “
Researchers found the ancient anchovies in nearly a foot of fossils embedded in a rock formation near Chi?vres, Belgium. They also found another partial fossil in Punjab, Pakistan, which researchers estimate ranged from 41 million to 54 million years old.
Both fossils are characterized by a swordtooth in the upper jaw of the fish. High-resolution images of the fish’s skull later showed that the jaws of the ancient anchovies also had a row of fangs. Scientists speculate that unlike today’s docile, plankton-eating anchovies, the ancient fish preyed on its fangs.
The researchers determined that this part of the fossil from Pakistan preserved a unique species, named after a deformed creature with sharp fangs found in South Asian legend, called Monosmilus chureloides. It is understood that monosmilus chureloides can reach up to 3.2 feet, 10 times the size of the now-small anchovies, and its saber teeth are about an inch long, accounting for nearly 30 percent of its skull.
The discovery of ancient anchovies highlights how the species evolved into today’s small bodies and provides scientists with more information about how marine life evolved into today’s questions.