Introducing Isityumzi

My paper describing a new fossil lungfish was published yesterday in the journal PeerJ. In 2018 I was fortunate enough to travel to South Africa to stay and work with Dr Rob Gess, based at Rhodes University in Grahamstown (Makhanda) in the eastern cape of South Africa.

  • Read my original blog post about the trip HERE.

Although not represented by many specimens, this lungfish material is significant for a number of reasons. Firstly, it represents the ONLY Late Devonian lungfish known from Western Gondwana (South America and Africa), and secondly it hails from the Waterloo Farm Formation. During the Late Devonian when this lungfish lived (~372-359 million years ago), South Africa was situated next to the south pole!

It seems to have inhabited a thriving ecosystem, suggesting that this region was not as cold as the polar regions are today, but it still must have been subject to long periods of winter darkness – very different to the habitats that lungfish live in today!

The new lungfish is called Isityumzi mlomomde, which means “a long-mouthed device for crushing” in the isiXhosa language (one of the official languages of South Africa).

  • Read the full article in PeerJ HERE

I was supported by a Vice-Chancellor’s Award for Early Career Research in 2017 which enabled me to travel to South Africa to complete this research.

Below is an artist’s interpretation of life at Waterloo Farm back in the Devonian (by Maggie Newman). Isityumzi (bottom right) here is eating some Naiadites (bivalves) on the underside of a submerged log whilst an Umzantsia (an early tetrapod) cruises overhead.

Isityumzi-WaterlooFarm

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