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Jaw-inspiring: Ancient fish was pivotal in evolution of face, researchers find

Published on Feb 13, 2014 6:00 AM

WASHINGTON (REUTERS) - Let's face it. It's easy to take for granted that mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians and fish - vertebrates just like people - have a face. But it has not always been the case.

The first creatures with a backbone - jawless fish from hundreds of millions of years ago - did not. Scientists have been eager to learn how the evolution of the face unfolded.

A small, primitive armored fish known as Romundina that swam the seas 415 million years ago and whose fossilized remains were unearthed in the Canadian Arctic is providing some revealing answers.

With Romundina at the center of their work, Swedish and French researchers described in a study published in the journal Nature on Wednesday the step-by-step development of the face as jawless vertebrates evolved into creatures with jaws.

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