Paleontologist from the Australian National University reported the elucidation of one of the largest lobe-finned fish from the Devonian ever discovered in the open access peer reviewed journal Public Library of Science on March 6, 2013.
Edenopteron keithcrooki was found in the Eden - Pambula district of New South Wales Australia. The fish is named for the town of Eden. Pteron is Greek for wing or fin. The researchers named the discovery in acknowledgment of the contributions of Dr. Keith Crook (Australian National University, Canberra) to Australian paleontology for 30 years.
The fossil is unique in being the largest Devonian lobe-finned discovered. The estimated length of the fish fossil is eight feet. The size was estimated from the skull length that is 50 centimeters long. The incomplete skeleton did not contain all the bones for an exact measurement of length..
The presence of scales and dental fangs and tusks argues for a description as a unique species. Edenopteron keithcrooki also differs from other fossil species found from the same time frame in having a less pointed skull and the shape of the orbits.
The researchers cannot completely ascertain the origin of this new species. Some points of anatomy argue for a South China and Gondwana origin and other parts of the skeleton argue for a relationship to similar species found in Greenland.
Lobe-finned fishes are considered to be the first ancestors of land dwelling animals.
Young B, Dunstone RL, Senden TJ, Young GC (2013) A Gigantic Sarcopterygian (Tetrapodomorph Lobe-Finned Fish) from the Upper Devonian of Gondwana (Eden, New South Wales, Australia). PLoS ONE 8(3): e53871. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0053871