Paleontologists find giant saber-toothed anchovies that lived in prehistoric times

About 20 thousand species, or 95% of all fish known to us, belong to the ray-finned class, which arose about 400 million years ago, and after another 200 million underwent the largest revolution in its history. The variety of ray-finned fish is great, among them there are real sea monsters, and recently scientists have discovered two more unusual species, however, already extinct. Probably even for the better, because they were distinguished by the presence of huge teeth and outrageous aggression.

Back in 1946, fossilized remains of a strange fish were found in Belgium, which was named Clupeopsis straeleni. Then, in 1977, a close relative of hers, Monosmilus chureloides, was found in Pakistan. For a long time, the samples rested in storage, until recently a team of paleontologists from the University of Michigan began to study them. It was they who proved the relationship of the two ancient species, establishing that both lived 55 million years ago.

They were dangerous predators about a meter long with large sharp teeth, which were complemented by a single huge canine, protruding far from the upper jaw. The only version about its purpose is to prick prey so that it does not slip away. Interestingly, both species are related to modern anchovies, an extremely popular family of game fish, among which there is not a single predator. And this suggests that the fierce temper and sharp tooth did the ancient anchovies a disservice.

The period of existence of saber-toothed anchovies falls on the beginning of the Paleogene, when ray-finned fishes began to develop rapidly and dominate the aquatic environment. There was fierce competition between them for a place in the sun, and the fact that small anchovies calmly survived to this day, and only fossils remained from toothy giants, clearly indicates the evolutionary superiority of small non-aggressive fish.