Mandageria fairfaxi is an extinct sarcopterygian predatory fish of the Late Devonian period that grew up to 2 metres in length. Ithad a similar morphology to modern Pike - although they are not directly related - and, like the Pike, it was capable of rapid bursts of speed, driven forward by a powerful broad caudal fin and torpedo shaped body. The similarity between Mandageria and Pike is regarded as an example of evolutionary convergence - where unrelated organisms arrive at similar evolutionary adaptations.
The most distinguishing feature of sarcopterygians are the lobe-fins that contain rudimentary bones which correlate with the limb bones of all land vertebrates (eg. humerus, radius, ulna). These fleshy limbs may at first appear cumbersome but in conjunction with the swim bladder they allowed the fish to hold its position underwater, waiting on passing prey. Mandageria would have been a formidable ambush predator. The evolution of the lobed-fin and swim bladder allowed for the further development of limbs in general which in turn opened up the possibility of vertebrates moving onto land.
The swim bladder itself is thought to be a re-adaptation (exaptation) of a rudimentary air-sack that evolved in the throats of early fish so as to survive in de-oxygenated water. Over time this evolved into the swim bladder of bony fish which is essential for achieving neutral buoyancy and it is one of the features that distinguishes bony fish from sharks. More recent examination of the fossilised skull of Mandageria have indicated that it may also have had the ability to partially lift and turn its head (, which would represent a step in evolution towards the vertebrate neck. Mandageria fairfaxi became the state fossil of NSW Australia in 2017
Paleozoo replicas are museum grade models, based on accurate data. They are available for sale here via the store link below.