A joint Scottish-Canadian group has verified the primitive sea animal leedsichthys problematicus is the biggest boned fish ever to roam the seas of our earth.
Growing to lengths of 16.5 metres over a projected growth period of forty years, the Jurassic-era sea animal would have outgrown even today’s massive whale sharks. Although its grand dimension, yet, leedsichthys is believed to have been a filter feeder, akin to baleen whales, basking sharks and whale sharks are now.
Found from the late 19th century and formally named (after English farmer and fossil collector Alfred Leeds) in 1889, relics of leedsichthys have been unearthed throughout Europe, and also in South America.
The ‘problematicus’ portion of its scientific name stems from the proven fact that leedsichthys fossils are disreputably tricky to recognize. This is due to a indisputable fact that leedsichthys’ skeleton #was not# made entirely of bone. Large portions #of the# animal’s internal structure were actually #made from# cartilage, just #as a# shark’s bone structure is. Cartilage #does not# mineralize as eagerly as bone and, as the result, fossil cartilage is somewhat uncommon.
Out of context, the fossilized bones can represent a problem to palaeontologists. Over the years, remains of leedsichthys have even been posited as belonging to bone-plated dinosaur stegosaurus!
Because leedsichthys vertebrae was cartilaginous, it has been very difficult to see how long the fish may have been, with some unconfirmed estimates signifying that it was as long as 30 m.
Nonetheless, each time a new, more complete, fossil was found near Peterborough, UK, scientists were at last in a position to take an accurate measurement. Professor Jeff Liston, of our National Museum of Scotland, said, “We sat down and checked out a large series of specimens, not only at the bones, but their inner development set ups as well – much like the expansion rings in trees – to find some ideas about the ages of these animals, along with their estimated measurements,”
The team finally determined that a small adult leedsichthys would grow to eight or 9 metres after some 20 years and, in another 20 years; it could reach about 16.5 m in length. This is greater than the whale shark, the biggest bony fish existing now, despite persistent and credible reports of whale sharks growing as long as 14 metres in length.
This information is exciting to scientists and natural history fanatics because it guarantees a functional insight into the alterations in ocean life that occurred around and through the Jurassic period.
Scientists now accept as true that filter-feeding sea animals started out as quite small animals, before growing to huge sizes we know today. The outstanding mass of leedishthys problematicus thus implies that there was an enormous surge in the plankton populace of the Mesozoic seas.
The invention also involves a major change to the records.
Scientists Settle on Size of Largest Ever Sea animal