Dinosaur-Era Super Piranha Terrorized Ancient Seas

Source: Live Science/Charles Q. Choi

Photo: Anton Darius | @theSollers/Unsplash

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A piranha-like fish with a mouth full of pointy teeth (some even jutting down from the roof of its mouth) once swam the Jurassic seas, ripping flesh or even fins from the bodies of other aquatic creatures.

That was 152 million years ago, a new study of a fossil of the creature found in Germany revealed. At that time, pterodactyls flew in the skies and stegosaurs and brontosaurs walked the Earth. The scientists discovered the specimen in 2016 in the same limestone deposits in the south German countryside that yielded fossils of Archaeopteryx, long considered the first known bird.

Back when this fish lived, the area in which it swam “was occupied by a shallow tropical sea dotted with small, sunbathed islands, covered by a probably sparse vegetation of ferns and cycads on which exotic animals lived — numerous insects, lizards, small dinosaurs and the early bird Archaeopteryx,” study lead author Martina Kölbl-Ebert, a vertebrate paleontologist and director of the Jura Museum in Eichstätt, Germany, told Live Science. “In the sea, there were sponge reefs as well as small coral reefs.

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Photo: Anton Darius | @theSollers/Unsplash

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