Our ideas about vertebrate evolution challenged by a new tree of life

Benedict King, John Long, Mike Lee

    Research output: Contribution to specialist publicationArticle

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    The placoderms were a diverse group of ancient armoured fishes and it’s widely believed that they are ancestral to virtually all vertebrates alive today, including humans.

    Placoderms dominated aquatic environments for 70 million years until they suddenly went extinct some 360 million years ago, paving the way for modern bony fish (osteichthyans) and sharks and rays (chondrichthyans).

    The earliest vertebrates were jawless fishes, and placoderms were among the earliest fishes to evolve jaws, an adaptive breakthrough that contributed to their rapid success.

    Several studies have strongly argued that placoderms are the direct ancestors of all other jawed vertebrates, a huge branch of the tree of life that includes mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians and most fish.
    Original languageEnglish
    Number of pages5
    Specialist publicationThe Conversation
    PublisherThe Conversation
    Publication statusPublished - 6 Dec 2016


    • Evolution
    • Fish
    • Palaeontology
    • Human evolution


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