Cichlid fossils from the Rift Valley

cichlid fossils

Cichlid fossil. Photo credit: LMU/B. Reichenbacher

A study attempting to determine what the Rift Valley of east Africa looked like during the mid to late Miocene Epoch (11 to 16 million years ago) found that cichlids made up the majority of fish species in the area, like they do today. Cichlid fossils ranged is size from under an inch to about 6 inches. Although the study wasn’t about cichlids, their fossils helped to paint a picture of what the landscape was like during that period. The amount of cichlid fossils and the sediments surrounding them told of catastrophic events and changing water levels during that time.

The study also identified several new species of cichlids. Future studies hope to identify the relationship between the fossilized fish and the fish found today. The complete publication is behind a paywall, but a summary can be found at the PHSY.ORG website.

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