Scientists believe they have discovered a giant fish that grew up to 52 ft long – longer than an Olympic-sized swimming pool, writes Daily Mail.
Fossil of the huge creature called Leedsichthys shows that it lived about 160 million years ago, and it was wiped out at the same time as dinosaurs.
Although it was difficult to establish creature’s exact length, as fossils were found in small fragments, scientists believe it grew about 9 meters in 20 years, and after 38 years it would reach 16.5 meters.
Leedsichthys was first discovered in 1886 Alfred Nicholson Leeds.
Scientists have pieced together the fossils, and according to them, the creature weighed about 21.5 tones and would live around 40 years.
The fish had an enormous mouth, which behaved as a hoover for sucking up small fish.
“Leedsichthys skeletons preserve poorly, often only as isolated fragments, so previous size estimates were largely historical arm-waving exercises. The existence of these large suspension-feeding fish at this time is highly significant as it would seem to be clear evidence of a major change in plankton populations in the oceans of Jurassic Earth. This has implications for our understanding of biological productivity in modern oceans and how that productivity has changed over time. We looked at a wide range of specimens, not just the bones but also their internal growth structures – similar to the growth rings in trees – to get some idea about the ages of these animals as well as their estimated sizes,” said professor Jeff Linston of the University of Kunming in China and the University of Bristol’s School of Earth Sciences.
“One of the truly fascinating aspects of this fish as a suspension feeder is that it seems to have developed a unique mesh structure on its gills to help it extract plankton as the seawater passed through its mouth. Extremely delicate and rarely-preserved, it resembles the honeycomb pattern in a bee-hive. It functioned like a trawler’s net to trap plankton, and obviously was very effective, given the large sizes this animal achieved. This mesh structure is very different to what we see in today’s suspension-feeding fish and whales. It had a unique way of solving a similar problem,” the professor said.
The longest living bony fish is the Oarfish which can grow up to 17m in length (55 ft).