GROWING up can be a killer if you are a prehistoric creature that's more than a little bit strange.
A new species of lamprey, thought to be up to 500 million years old, was discovered in a sub-catchment of Noosa River three years ago but has only recently been identified positively.
Its first three to four years are spent sightless in larval form on the bottom of a creek, filtering microscopic algae from the water. A process of metamorphosis brings it to adulthood when it spawns but it doesn't eat, leading to death within eight months.
The new species was discovered during routine Healthy Waterways testing
After exhaustive study, the lamprey was found to be
older than the lung fish.
Lamprey are usually found on the south-east Australian coast.
The creatures discovered in the Noosa River are thought to have shifted north in the first of two waves of
colonisation three to six million years ago.
The discovery became a project for David Moffatt, principal environmental officer for the Water Quality and Aquatic Ecosystem Health division.
"Because we have good quality-assurance systems, when there is any doubt about the identity of a fish, it is taken and examined," he said yesterday.
He had on his hands what scientists referred technic
ally as an LBT or little, brown thing.
"They're very primitive and it's hard to distinguish them from their external characteristics," he said.
The creatures grow to only 6-7cm long .
Lamprey have simplified versions of human organs, making them ideal for medical research
Fossils dated to 360 million years ago. Thought to have been in existence 500 million years ago
New species also found at Tin Can Bay