Fossil suction feeding surprise reported ScienceDaily 11 September 2019 and Science Advances 11 September 2019, doi: 10.1126/sciadv.aax2742.

Bony ray-finned fishes, such as bass, perch and carp, feed by using a method called suction feeding, where they are able to catch prey by sucking water into their mouths and then funnelling the water out through their gills. To do this they must be able to expand their mouth cavity using flexible gill arches and joints. This method of feeding is believed to “a classic innovation of ray-finned fishes” that enabled them to evolve successfully into many different kinds and exploit different sources of food.

Scientists at University of Chicago have used scans of a well-preserved shark fossil to construct of a 3D model of its head and study how it ate its food. The shark is named Tristychius arcuatus and was found in ironstone nodules around the Firth of Forth near Edinburgh, Scotland, dated as 355 million years old.

Their model showed that T. arcuatus was capable of high-performance suction feeding. According to ScienceDaily this “provided Tristychius with access to previously untapped food resources, such as prey taking refuge in shallow burrows or otherwise difficult-to-capture schools of shrimp or juvenile fish, around 50 million years before bony fish caught on to the same technique.”

Michael Coates of University of Chicago, who led the study, explained: “Among today’s aquatic vertebrates, suction feeding is widespread, and is often cited as a key factor contributing to the spectacular evolutionary success of ray-finned fishes. But here we show that high-performance aquatic suction feeding first appeared in one of the earliest known sharks.”

The researchers note that some living sharks have suction feeding. Coates went on to comment: “These particular sharks were doing something sophisticated and new. Here we have the earliest evidence of this key innovation that’s been so important for multiple groups of fishes and has evolved repeatedly.”


Editorial Comment: Both remarkably clever and remarkably stupid at the same time. The really clever thing these researchers have done with their scans and reconstruction methods will help palaeontologists learn more about the function of extinct animals. However, their conclusions are full of blind evolutionary assumptions that are just wishful thinking, and anything but scientific observations.

This fossil shark already had a fully formed suction feeding apparatus and there is absolutely no evidence it ever had another kind of jaw movement in the past. At no time do these scientists explain how fish with simple snapping jaws converted them into the suction feeding apparatus, or how the fish knew how to use their newly formed suction feeding apparatus, or how to exploit any new sources of food.

Furthermore, many sharks with snapping jaws function very well without suction feeding – think of the great white shark. Calling something a sophisticated key innovation, at the same time as you believe it happened by chance random processes is blind faith.

Finding complex structures in fossil sharks and some living sharks is no surprise to us, since God’s Word in Genesis tells us that God made all living things as fully functioning creatures in separate kinds. Therefore, scientific research is revealing that each kind is a unique combination of non-unique fully functional parts. Claiming the structure repeatedly evolved adds yet another blind faith belief to explain why creatures that are not closely related on the evolutionary tree of life have the same structures and functions.

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Evidence News vol. 19, No. 16
9 October 2019
Creation Research Australia