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Prehistoric Fish Once Had a Hook-Shaped Sail on its Back

First Posted: Feb 24, 2016 07:22 AM EST

Researchers have uncovered a prehistoric fish that once possessed a hook-shaped sail on its back. The fish, which was on display at the Perot Museum of Nature and Science in Dallas, has recently been discovered to be a new species.

"At first glance, the specimen looked like a known Petanogmius species, but when I began to trace the curved dorsal fin, its front half kept extending backwards far beyond where I thought it would end relative to its rear half," said Kenshu Shimada, one of the researchers, in a news release. "That's when I realized I have something new to science."

The fossil fish is a nearly complete skeleton from the Britton Formation in Dallas County. It's likely that the fish was active in open water environments, and possible fed on a variety of small animals like squid and other fish.

The fish is actually dated to be 90 million years old, and highlights the fact that there may be other museum specimens that have been similarly incorrectly classified in the past.

"We're very excited by the discovery of this new fossil fish for two reasons," said Anthony Fiorillo. "First, it once again illustrates that the Perot Museum of Nature and Science not only inspires but serves as a resource for those in our community curious about the natural world around them. Secondly, this find also demonstrates the dynamic nature of scientific investigation within our T. Boone Pickens Life Then & Now Hall."

The findings are published in the journal Cretaceous Research.

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