In the latest of evolution theories, Swedish and French researchers say they’ve tracked the formation of the human face to the development and progression of a certain type of fish that swam the earth’s seas about 415 million years ago.
Their report, made public in the journal Nature, relies on the idea that the first creatures were formed hundreds of millions of years ago, and that they did not have a backbone. Researchers recently unearthed fossils for a small fish called the Romundina that they say swam the oceans 415 million years ago, and that this species is key to revealing the formation of the development of the face, Reuters reported.
The team of researchers, working at the European Synchrotron in France, scanned the structures of this fish skull and digitally created the anatomy in three distinct dimensions, Reuters said. They found that the fish had a mix of primitive and modern, with an armored body, a flexible back end with a shark-like tail and a curious “upper lip,” they said.
Vertebrate evolution researcher Per Ahlberg said the Romundina was about 8 inches in length, with a small spine and a jaw with crushing plates, rather than traditional teeth.
“The face is one of the most important and emotionally significant parts of our anatomy, so it is interesting to understand how it came into being,” Mr. Ahlberg told Reuters.
He and his team of researchers said they started with the partial jaw of the Romundina and tracked its evolution in three major steps — from a single nostril to separate left and right nostrils to the formation of the nose and its location between the eyes, to the shrinking of the “upper lip” and the lengthening of face — to humans.
“When you look at Romundina, it’s like looking at yourself in the mirror, but with a 415 million-year-old image,” said Vincent Dupret of Uppsala, another of the researchers, in the Reuters report. “It’s like in a science-fiction movie. You look at the mirror, but it’s not you. It’s your ancestor.”
The findings are in conflict with the biblically-based creationist view of life, which says humans were formed by God and — some believe — that the earth is actually only a few thousand years old.
• Cheryl K. Chumley can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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