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Prehistoric `brainless, faceless` fish found

Last Updated: Thursday, December 29, 2011 - 17:51

London: A prehistoric fish that had no brain and no face, and described as "elusive" and "rarely seen", has now been found in the seas off Scotland.

The Amphioxus fish is known to be a representative of the first animals that evolved a backbone around half a billion years ago.

The fish was found in the waters off Tankerness in Orkney by marine surveyors this year. Orkney comprises around 70 islands of which 20 are inhabited.

Instead of a brain or face, the fish has a nerve cord running down its back.

Vertebrate life and amphioxus are believed to have descended from a common ancestor around 550 million years ago.

The species was unearthed in a series of 15 marine surveys in 2011, covering around 5,200 square km. Researchers used acoustic scanners and hi-definition cameras.
The scientists were surprised to find dozens of rare, strange species in the waters.
"In an age where the lands of the world have been mapped out and recorded, it`s amazing how many discoveries are waiting to be found under the waves. The waters around Scotland are rich in such fascinating biodiversity and it`s our responsibility to protect this fragile environment," Scottish environment secretary Richard Lochhead said.


First Published: Thursday, December 29, 2011 - 17:51

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