Devonian dreaming down under


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Devonian dreaming down under

Fish today are easy to define as ‘aquatic back-boned animals that lack developed limbs with digits’. However, when fossils are taken into account this definition becomes nebulous as the first fishes emerge from a mixture of worm-like animals.

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Although the discovery of fish fossils in Australia goes back to Dana in 1849 working in Triassic sediments around Sydney, the first records of our truly ancient fishes from the Palaeozoic Era (540-250mya) dates to a find in the Buchan region of eastern Victoria described by Fredrick McCoy, the founding Director of today’s Museum Victoria. McCoy erected the Class Placodermi in 1848, and in 1876 described a bony plate with tuberculated ornamentation from the Devonian limestones of eastern Victoria as “Asterolepis cf. ornata” – a kind of antiarch placoderm well known in the Northern Hemisphere. Unfortunately this specimen was later found to be indeterminate as to its real affinities, apart from being a kind of placoderm plate.

AAOD Journal Issue 10 (2012) – pages 50 to 65 
By Professor John A Long

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