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Scientists believe they have discovered the oldest heart, which is about 380 million years old, DPA reported, quoted by "Darik".

The muscular organ is from a fossilized jawed fish that swam in the waters during the Devonian period, between 419 million and 359 million years ago.

The fossils are 250 million years older than the previously known fish hearts.

Along with the "beautifully preserved" heart, the researchers found a fossilized stomach, intestine and liver.

According to scientists, the findings, published in the journal Science, suggest that the organs are from an extinct species of jawed fish whose anatomy was similar to that of a modern shark.

Specialists hope it can shed light on how creatures, including humans, have evolved.

Lead researcher Professor Kate Trynastick of Curtin University in Australia described the discovery as "remarkable" as it is very rare to find such well-preserved soft tissues of ancient species.

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"As a paleontologist who has studied fossils for over 20 years, I was truly amazed to find a three-dimensional and beautifully preserved heart in a 380-million-year-old ancestor," she says.

"Evolution is often thought of as a series of small steps, but these ancient fossils suggest that there was a bigger leap between jawless and jawed vertebrates... The hearts of these fish were literally in their mouths and under their gills – just like sharks today."

Based on the findings, the researchers created three-dimensional models of the jawfish, which show that the heart is made up of two chambers, with the smaller one at the top.

Prof Trainastic says the findings offer a "unique insight" into how the head and neck region began to evolve to accommodate the jaws.

"For the first time we can see all the organs together in a primitive jawed fish, and we were particularly surprised to learn that they are not so different from ours," she explains.

The researcher notes that there was "one critical difference - the liver was large and allowed the fish to remain buoyant, just like sharks today."

The fossils were found in the western part of Australia, in a reef that preserves a unique fauna and flora from the Late Devonian period.


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