Growing to lengths of 16.5 metres over a projected development phase of 40 years, the Jurassic-era fish would have outgrown even today’s massive whale sharks. In spite of its imposing size, though, leedsichthys is believed to have been a filter feeder, just like baleen whales, basking sharks and whale sharks are these days.
Found from the late 19th century and formally named (after British farmer and fossil collector Alfred Leeds) in 1889, skeleton of leedsichthys have been unearthed right through Europe, and also in South America.
The ‘problematicus’ piece of its technical identity stems through the indisputable fact that leedsichthys fossils are disreputably difficult to spot. It is due to a incontrovertible fact that leedsichthys’ skeleton #was not# made entirely of bone. Large portions #of the# animal’s internal structure were actually #made from# cartilage, just #as a# shark’s bone structure is. Cartilage #does not# mineralize as willingly as bone and, as a result, fossil cartilage is a little bit uncommon.
Out of perspective, the fossilized bones can symbolize a challenge to palaeontologists. Over the years, remains of leedsichthys have even been posited as belonging to bone-plated dinosaur stegosaurus!
Because leedsichthys vertebrae was cartilaginous, it may be very hard to determine how long the fish may have been, with some unsubstantiated estimates signifying that it was as long as 30 metres.
Nonetheless, when a new, more complete, fossil was discovered near Peterborough, UK, scientists were eventually in a position to get an accurate measurement. Professor Jeff Liston, of our National Museum of Scotland, said, “We sat down and checked out a good series of specimens, not only at the bones, but their internal growth set ups as well – just like the expansion rings in trees – to get some ideas about the ages of these animals, in addition to their estimated dimensions,”
The team finally determined that a small adult leedsichthys would grow to 8 or 9 metres after some 20 years and, in another 20 years; it could reach roughly 16.5 metres in length. This is larger than the whale shark, the largest bony fish living now, in spite of persistent and credible reports of whale sharks growing as long as 14 metres in length.
This news is thrilling to scientists and natural history fanatics as it guarantees a useful insight into the changes in ocean life that occurred around and through the Jurassic era.
Scientists now think that filter-feeding fish started out as quite tiny animals, before increasing to the huge sizes we know nowadays. The amazing size of leedishthys problematicus thus implies that there was an enormous surge within the plankton population of the Mesozoic seas.
The invention also demands a significant change to the records.