A tiny 17 millimetre-long transparent fish with a larval skeleton and Dracula-like ‘teeth’ has been described by Natural History Museum zoologists. The new minnow was found in a stream in northern Burma. Danionella dracula is part of the Cypriniform group of carp-like fishes and is a close relative of the zebrafish. It has evolved many unique and unusual characteristics, the most spectacular of which are jaw modifications that resemble true teeth and protrude through the skin.
Dr Ralf Britz, zoologist at the Natural History Museum, explains, ‘This fish is one of the most extraordinary vertebrates discovered in the last few decades. The teeth that D dracula has are very surprising because none of the other 3,700 species in the Cypriniform group have any teeth in their jaws. In fact, they lost their jaw teeth about 50 million years ago in the Upper Eocene Period. Danionella dracula, however, evolved its own tooth-like structures by growing them from the jaw bones rather than re-evolving jaw teeth.’
The findings are published in the latest issue of Proceedings of the Royal Society B.
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Claire Gilby, Senior Press Officer, Natural History Museum
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