An original fossil remnant unearthing by Dr Matt Friedman, paleobiologist with the Oxford University shines in the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology. Friedman's remnant evidence fossil fish the Heteronectes was exposed with both eyes on reverse sides of head. It was unearthed in old marine rocks from northern Italy that are dated almost 50 million years ago.
The Heteronectes ends being an enigma anymore. Heteronectes means “different swimmer” and was a presumed to be a scrumptious flatfish like the sole and the Halibut. Generally flatfishes have an oval or disk shaped body, asymmetrical heads with both eyes placed on the same side. The side where the fish has the eye is darker and browner with texture and the other where there is no eye is pale and white in shade. They are naturally blessed with extraordinary camouflaging properties.
Normally the flatfishes sleep around on the bottom to ensnare their unsuspecting quarry and swim with crimped action. The astonishing fact about a flatfish is that as the fish leave the larva stage and enter adulthood one eye creeps from one head side to the other resulting in a frightening look as both eyes glare from the same side of the head. The species decide which eye moves to which side. Their anatomical development over ages has the scientific field in total captivation. When did this change of both the eyes moving stealthily to one side take place?
The new study details of the prehistoric flatfishes assures that initially the crawling eye was very much in place in the original affiliates of this species. The Heteronectes flatfish shows the ideal transitional period between the fish with eyes on different sides of the head and the evolved particular flatfishes where both eyes are resting together on the same side.
"This fossil comes from Bolca in northern Italy, a site that has literally been mined for hundreds of years for its fossil fishes. This remarkable site provides a snapshot of an early coral reef assemblage. Reefs are well known as biodiversity hotspots, so it is perhaps not surprising that Bolca provides us with the first evidence of many modern fish groups," said the excited scientist Friedman.
"Our understanding of the relationships of some of these groups is in a state of change with the increasing influx of molecular genetic studies. Fossils have not contributed very much to this debate, but specimens like that of Heteronectes reveal the superb level of detail that can be extracted from extinct species."
The Heteronectes flatfish had been resting in peace undiscovered and unexplored in a Vienna Museum. It wasn’t taken as a midway form sandwiched between "normal" fishes that have eyes on reverse head sides and the current flatfish that proudly display both the eyes on the same head side. The museums are thus enclosing hidden treasures waiting to be brought to light.