Perhaps you've heard about Entelognathus primordialis this week. Wait, the scientific name doesn't ring a bell on its own? What if I refer to it as the 419-million-year old placoderm fish that surprised everyone with its beautifully preserved, surprisingly modern-looking jaw? Entelognathus primordialis shakes our family tree at its roots; it unseats cartilaginous fish as our ancestors and puts the bony placoderms in their place. It is described in this week's edition of the journal Nature.

Rarely does a fossil fish make front-page news, even one as remarkable as this. But when it does, a great illustration helps propel the story along. Entelognathus' reconstruction is by Dr. Brian Choo, a post-doctoral researcher at Beijing's Institute for Paleontology and Paleoanthropology.

Entelognathus by Dr. Brian Choo

Entelognathus primordalis reconstruction by Dr. Brian Choo

From: Min Zhu, Xiaobo Yu, Per Erik Ahlberg, Brian Choo, Jing Lu, Tuo Qiao, Qingming Qu, Wenjin Zhao, Liantao Jia, Henning Blom & You’an Zhu (2013) A Silurian placoderm with osteichthyan-like marginal jaw bones. Nature. doi:10.1038/nature12617

Additional versions of this illustration as well as illustrated phylogenies that put the discovery in context can be found at Dr. Brian Choo's DeviantArt page.


Every day in the month of September, we are serving up a different science artist for your viewing pleasure. Can’t get enough? Check out what was featured on this day last year: Eye Heart Yew by Lis Mitchell / Pixelfish.