Scientists have discovered the “oldest heart in the world”, in a 380 million-year-old fossil of a fish, according to a report by the British newspaper The Independent.
Researchers from Curtin University in Australia found that the heart was “remarkably well preserved” along with other fossilized organs — the stomach, intestines and liver of the shark-like fish.
Researchers found the fossil in the Kimberley region of western Australia, and estimated that the heart belonged to a fish that lived during the Devonian period, which dates back to 419 million to 359 million years ago.
The results, published in the scientific journal “Science”, indicate that “the organs come from the body of a fish from the family of arthropods, an extinct group of armored fish that has an anatomy similar to that of the modern shark.”
Principal researcher Kate Trinagistic described the find as “wonderful” because “it is very rare to find well-preserved soft tissues of ancient species.”
“As a paleontologist who has studied fossils for more than 20 years, I was truly amazed to find a beautifully preserved 3D heart in a 380-million-year-old creature,” Trinagistic said.
She added that “the hearts of these fish were next to their mouths, and directly under the gills.”