about the episode
Researchers have discovered a 380 million-year-old heart preserved in a prehistoric fossilized fish in Western Australia.
When they made the discovery, they almost fell out of their seats. This discovery is very interesting because the heart that was found tells us something about an important moment in the evolution of the pumping system. Oh yeah: and the chance of something like that being preserved in a fossil is pretty small.
Thanks to the minerals in the soil, this happened in this case. The livers, stomachs, and intestines of fish – the oldest species of fish that had teeth and jaws – also survive. For the first time something can now be said about the members of such an ancient animal species.
If you put the heart next to the image of our current heart, the two would still be exactly the same. The heart of this prehistoric fish was surprisingly complex, too. For example, it had two compartments, just like ours, and the position in the body is also different from that of older fish, which – the researchers believe – gave the animal all the advantages, such as more endurance.
And so we have another piece of the complex puzzle from which we humans and many other animals in the world have grown up.