Undisciplined: Would You Like A Saber-Toothed Killer On That?

Jun 5, 2020

Credit Joschua Knüppe

We’re talking about an ancient ancestor of modern anchovies, a fearsome fish that swam the seas about 55 million years ago — and, like so many other ancient creatures, it was a lot scarier back then that it is now.

Just about everyone knows that, about 65 million years ago, a very large asteroid struck our planet, sparking a massive die-off that killed a lot of animals on the surface of our planet, most notably the dinosaurs.

We tend not to think as much about what this event did to the animals in the ocean, but scientists generally agree that they were adversely affected too and, just as was the case on the land, many large predators were soon wiped out of existence.

And then, all sorts of strange and wonderful newly evolved and evolving animals came crashing into that void. And joining us today to talk about one of those animals — which has quickly become my favorite ancient fish — is Alessio Capobianco. His team’s recent paper, published in May in Royal Society Open Science, introduces the world to Monosmilus chureloides, the fearsome saber-toothed anchovy.