Investigating the Identity of an Ancient Fish Fossil Using CT Scanning – UROP Spring Symposium 2021

Investigating the Identity of an Ancient Fish Fossil Using CT Scanning

Wesley Liao

Wesley Liao

Pronouns: he/him/his

Research Mentor(s): Matt Friedman, Associate Professor
Research Mentor School/College/Department: Museum of Paleontology/Earth and Environmental Science, College of Literature, Science, and the Arts
Presentation Date: Thursday, April 22, 2021
Session: Session 3 (1pm-1:50pm)
Breakout Room: Room 8
Presenter: 2

Event Link


This research project examines Wardichthys cyclosoma, an extinct species of fish that lived during the Carboniferous period (around 350 million years ago) from Scotland. In the past, Wardichthys cyclosoma has been classified as a platysomid, a type of Paleozoic (540-252 million years ago) fish known for their deep, flat bodies. However, this classification is based on limited evidence since there is little detail visible on the fossil. This project applies X-ray computed tomography to examine the anatomy of a fossil of Wardichthys that is still enclosed in rock. Using past scientific literature, we found several points of similarity between Wardichthys cyclosoma and confirmed members of platysomid group. Major observations that are consistent with this placement within this platysomid group include the shape and arragement of the postclethrium, clavicle, cleithrum, and sclerotic ossicle. By corroborating past hypotheses, this research project helps refine the understanding of the early evolution of these ancient fishes.

Authors: Wesley Liao, Matt Friedman
Research Method: Computer Programming

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