News / In Focus

Nature, synchrotron radiation, gnathostome teeth, vertebrate, acanthodian, Silurian, evolution, fossil
Discovering the Oldest Evidences of Jawed Vertebrates and Spiny Chondrichthyan on Earth
NSRRC Scientist Chun-Chieh Wang Contributed Critically to Collaborative Researches Published as a Cover Story in Nature
NSRRC scientist Chun-Chieh Wang contributed critically to collaborative researches published as a cover story in Nature. The cover is the reconstruction drawing of 5 newly discovered species of ancient fishes from the lower Silurian Period.
Dr. Chun-Chieh Wang, a scientist at the NSRRC, participated in an international research team for paleontological research. The team successfully revealed the structures of the earliest jawed vertebrates, as well as the evolutionary origins and frameworks of the jawed fishes. These two critical findings were both published and selected to be the cover in the internationally prestigious journal Nature on September 29.

As one of the vertebrates, human beings are always interested in the origin and evolutionary path of the vertebrates. Particularly, how did the structure of the upper and lower jaws evolve and become indispensable for survival? Recently, Academician Min Zhu and Dr. Plamen S. Andreev from Chinese Academy of Sciences (China), Prof. Ivan J. Sansom from University of Birmingham (UK), and NSRRC scientists organized an international collaborative research team. The samples they adopted were the well-preserved fossils of jawed fish with dentitions, as well as a number of acanthodian-like fish fossils with scales and fin spines, discovered at the lower Silurian strata, dated about 439 million years ago, in Guizhou Province of China. By using high-resolution X-ray tomography and high-precision reconstruction techniques at TLS 01A1 and TLS 01B1 to scan and analyze the tiny fossils, they not only reconstructed the precise structures of the extinct fishes but also revealed striking anatomical features. Their research results extend the records of jawed vertebrates and the origins of the acanthodian (chondrichthyans) by about 15 million years, and are significant in documenting the initial diversification of vertebrates. The findings from above studies on the origin of the vertebrates are certainly the most momentous in recent years.

Nature 609, 964 (2022).
Nature 609, 969 (2022).