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Evolution’s opportunists: ray-finned fish

Fouldenia, a shell-crushing, ray-finned fish, survived mass extinction 359 million years ago. Now, its descendants account for 99 percent of all fish species on Earth.

“These early, post-Devonian ray-finned fish provide the first glimpse of what is to come: an evolutionary profusion of body forms, fin shapes, and extraordinary jaws and teeth. The ray-finned fish really do exemplify Darwin’s comment about ‘endless forms most beautiful and wonderful,’” explains Michael Coates of the University of Chicago. Think of the word “fish” and the image that pops into your mind will likely be a ray-finned fish, members of a ubiquitous class that includes everything from tuna to trout, catfish to cod, swordfish to sunfish, perch to piranha, goldfish to goby.

Full story at Futurity.

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Photo credit: Jojoe.photography/Flickr

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