About the episode
Researchers have discovered a 380-million-year-old heart preserved in a fossilized prehistoric fish in western Australia.
When they made the discovery, they almost fell off their chairs. The find is extremely interesting because the found heart tells us something about an important moment in the evolution of the blood pumping organ. Oh yes: and the chance that something like this will be preserved in a fossil is very small.
Thanks to minerals in the soil, this has happened in this case. The liver, stomach and intestines of the fish – the earliest fish species to develop teeth and a jaw – are also still there. For the first time something can now be said about organs in such ancient animal species.
If you place the heart next to an image of our current heart, the two still look quite similar. The heart of this prehistoric fish was also surprisingly complex. For example, it had two chambers, just like ours and the position in the body is also different from that of even older fish, which – the researchers believe – gave the animal all advantages, such as more stamina.
And so we have another piece of the complex puzzle from which we humans and a lot of other animals in the world once originated.
Read more: World’s oldest heart found in prehistoric fish.