The biggest lungfish on record has been uncovered in an unexpected place – a drawer in the Nebraska State Museum in Lincoln.
Kenshu Shimada of DePaul University in Chicago was searching the drawers for specimens of fish teeth. For a while, the largest one he came across was the size of his thumb. Then he discovered a “humongous” one, 117 mm wide.
James Kirkland, state palaeontologist at the Utah Geological Survey, identified the tooth as coming from the upper jaw of a lungfish in the extinct genus Ceratodus, a freshwater bottom-feeder which used massive tooth plates to crunch shelled animals.
Lungfish are among our closest living piscine relatives. Kirkland and Shimada estimate the new Ceratodus was at least 4 meters long, beating the previous record of 3.5 meters for an African fossil. The largest living lungfish come in at almost 2 meters.