No anchovies, please... especially not THESE “saber-toothed” anchovies that made both the oceans and pizza very scary places, many millions of years ago.
If you thought pineapple on pizza was scary (you bet it is, not to mention disgusting), the thought of bizarre fanged anchovies is sure to make you lose your appetite. Even worse, the single dagger-like tooth projecting downward from the upper jaw of the newly-discovered fossil fish gives this killa sardine a disturbing anti-unicorn aspect.
That's right, we said “fossil” so you can dial down the panic a notch or three. A research article recently published at The Royal Society online discusses two separate species of terrifyingly toothy fish identified from fossil remains dating back to roughly 41 million to 54 million years ago. The dinosaurs were long gone by then but apparently it still wasn't safe to go back into the water!
The fossils were found in Belgium and Pakistan, with the latter belonging to a new species of Clupeiform fish – the clade that includes herring and anchovies familiar to us today. Unlike modern plant-eating species, however, these ancient anchovies were carnivores... and they were well-equipped for bringing home the bacon (or the marine equivalent thereof).
The researchers named the fossilized fish found in Pakistan “Monosmilus chureloides” after the “churel”, a sharp-fanged shape-shifting creature mentioned in many South Asian legends. “Monosmilus”, on the other hand, refers to the fish's bizarre “one knife” style of dentition. You may never associate anchovies with pizza cutters again. (via ScienceMag, images via Joschua Knuppe and Steve Cavers)