A Hong Kong University (HKU) student is said to have identified a Jurassic fish from Lai Chi Chong after studying some fossil collections at the university’s Stephen Hui Geological Museum.
Edison Tse Tze-kei found the specimen by chance as he was doing a research project in his final year of undergraduate study during the 2013-14 academic year, according to an announcement from HKU.
The fish, which is believed to date back to around 147 million years, represents the first dinosaur-era vertebrate specimen identified in Hong Kong, the university said in a statement posted on its website Thursday.
Tse, a graduate of the class of 2014, completed the research, description and identification under the supervision of three professors, including Michael Pittman, Research Assistant Professor and Head of the Vertebrate Palaeontology Laboratory at HKU.
The research results will now be published in PeerJ, an open access, peer-reviewed, scholarly journal of biological and medical sciences, by the end of this month.
The fossil specimen was found at Lai Chi Chong in Sai Kung, which is within the Hong Kong Geopark area, and was kept at a HKU museum.
The Jurassic fish was an osteoglossoid teleost fish, which is also referred to as Paralycoptera.
The preserved skeleton represents the first of such fish species from Hong Kong and the most southerly Paralycoptera identified to date, meaning that the activity area of the fish could be larger than scientists had first estimated.
Matthew Sin, a spokesperson for local NGO Green Power, said some visitors to Lai Chi Chong may have taken away rocks as souvenirs.
He reminded people that taking any sedimentary rocks, fossil, mineral or even sand samples from the Geopark is illegal.
Featured image: Magnified image (inset) of a fossil specimen from a Lai Chi Chong geological collection. Research by a HKU student has led to Hong Kong’s first identified dinosaur-era vertebrate. Credit:10.7717/peerj.865