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Yixian Fish by Eurwentala Yixian Fish by Eurwentala
Tiny fish of the genus Lycoptera, sparring over territory among submerged Archaefructus leaves.

There are practically no life reconstructions of this animal, so I ended up making a quick piece of my own. Lycoptera is by far the most common fossil animal in the Yixian Formation. There are literally thousands and thousands of them. It's a relative of modern osteoglossiforms: arovanas, African knifefish, elephantnose fishes and mooneyes.

I noticed some fossil specimens have a disproportionately long caudal fin. In some modern species of small fish (such as Rasbora trilineata) this sort of long fins are patterned and act both as signals to keep a school together in murky water, and as ornaments. In many species of small fish, the schools or shoals break up during spawning season, and individual males form tiny spawning territories among aquatic plants. They then spar with each other, circling and showing off their colours to attract females.

I thought it would not be unreasonable to reconstruct similar behaviour for Lycoptera, as it seems to be ecologically similar, even though it's not closely related to modern cyprinids or characiforms.
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:iconflishstar:
Flishstar Featured By Owner Apr 8, 2016
Very cute. :) I love extinct fish artwork, but there never seems to be much of it except for the biggest species.
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:icontote-meistarinn:
Tote-Meistarinn Featured By Owner Dec 27, 2015  Hobbyist General Artist
Fantastic patterning! :D Reminds me of something you might see in a pet shop.

Is it ok if I expand upon this idea in a Spore creation? You will of course get credit.
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:iconeurwentala:
Eurwentala Featured By Owner Dec 27, 2015  Professional
Thanks!
Sure, go ahead. :)
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:icontheaquariumslider:
TheAquariumSlider Featured By Owner Nov 16, 2015  Hobbyist General Artist
You could reconstrict the colour by copying the colour of modern fish such as Platinum Clownfish or prehistoric fish like African Cichlids
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:iconeurwentala:
Eurwentala Featured By Owner Nov 27, 2015  Professional
Yeah, I could, but it's often a bit boring and breaks the illusion to directly copy colouration from living animals. It's better to study them and understand how colours evolve, and what they are used for, and then create your own. :)

Because these fishes were small, probably diurnal shoalers, I took inspiration for the colour from similar living species, such as rasboras and tetras. It might be less plausible to use territorial species like most cichlids, or human-made variations like the platinum clownfish.
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:icontheaquariumslider:
TheAquariumSlider Featured By Owner Nov 30, 2015  Hobbyist General Artist
The depiction itself remembered of that of the rasboras.I saw at zoos plenty of them shoaling so practically these were related to characins or an extinct clade?I imagine a bird feasting on these little guys.
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:iconeurwentala:
Eurwentala Featured By Owner Dec 1, 2015  Professional
Lycoptera was not closely related to today's characins or cyprinids, but an extinct clade. I think their similarities were mostly due to convergent evolution: being small and shoaling animals in shallow, freshwater environments drives evolution in a certain direction.

The closest living relatives of Lycoptera are the living osteoglossiforms, that is arowanas, arapaimas, elephantnose fish, mooneyes and African knifefish.
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:icontraheripteryx:
Traheripteryx Featured By Owner Oct 3, 2015  Hobbyist General Artist
I love the colours!^^
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:iconsounder1995:
Sounder1995 Featured By Owner Sep 19, 2015  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Not surprised at all that no life reconstruction existed previously. A few months ago, I spoke to American paleontologist Jim Mead (www.etsu.edu/cas/geosciences/f…). One of his research interests is in Cenozoic squamates, which are important in understanding the palaeo-ecology of a particular time and place, along with most other "micro-fossils": gastropods, rodents, etc. He said Cenozoic squamate research in China is pretty void. I'm not surprised considering that China's pretty much one of only two countries with preserved feather impressions from non-avian dinosaurs, the other being Germany. I know Canada and Mongolia each have one (Ornithomimus and Shuvuuia, respectively), but those seem more like one-offs. Makes sense then that the focus in China and Germany (China especially) would be more so on the Mesozoic superstars.
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:iconeurwentala:
Eurwentala Featured By Owner Sep 19, 2015  Professional
Yeah, Mesozoic superstars tend to take the spotlight of researchers, paleoartists and media alike. It's nice to bring attention to some of the less known, but equally fascinating smaller creatures once in a while.
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:iconherofan135:
herofan135 Featured By Owner Sep 16, 2015  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
This is a beautiful resotration, I like it. ^^
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:iconeurwentala:
Eurwentala Featured By Owner Sep 19, 2015  Professional
Thanks!
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:iconvasix:
vasix Featured By Owner Sep 16, 2015  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Aww now I wanna have an aquarium with them :D wonder what other fish they can live with? Maybe Protosephurus? I heard they were expensive though :) in any case this is...probably the only Lycoptera reconstruction I've seen...so...just for that you get my love 
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:iconeurwentala:
Eurwentala Featured By Owner Sep 19, 2015  Professional
Haha, thanks.

I'm fairly sure Protopsephurus, being something like 7 meters long when fully adult, would be both took big for any reasonable aquarium, and very capable of eating the Lycoptera. I think it would be best to keep Lycoptera in a species tank, as the other fish known from it's habitat tend to be predatory. There are shrimp and crayfish in Yixian, though. They might be more compatible.
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:iconvasix:
vasix Featured By Owner Sep 19, 2015  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Wait...what...Protosephurus is...seven meters long...??? How...I...any information on that..??? Oh no wait, I just saw Wikipedia...so all those wonderfully preserved fossils I see online are the juveniles...? Well I guess a species tank would do for Lycoptera. Maybe a pond environment for things like um...Hyphalosaurus or Ordosemys, or Manchurochelys might work...I assume..
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:icontarturus:
Tarturus Featured By Owner Sep 15, 2015  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Its good to see some of the less well known prehistoric fauna getting some attention.
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:iconzopteryx:
ZoPteryx Featured By Owner Sep 15, 2015  Hobbyist General Artist
Terrific work, your coloration looks very plausible! :)
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:iconeurwentala:
Eurwentala Featured By Owner Sep 15, 2015  Professional
Thanks! I have spent quite a bit of time watching small fish from all around the world.
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:iconmunkas02:
munkas02 Featured By Owner Sep 15, 2015  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
how big? these are pretty interesting:)
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:iconeurwentala:
Eurwentala Featured By Owner Sep 15, 2015  Professional
Thanks! They are around 10 cm or so. Perfect snacks for small early birds and nonavian theropods, or medium-sized pterosaurs.
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:iconmunkas02:
munkas02 Featured By Owner Sep 15, 2015  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
hehe, thanks:)
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:iconthemorlock:
TheMorlock Featured By Owner Sep 15, 2015  Student General Artist
This makes me miss my aquarium.
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:iconviergacht:
Viergacht Featured By Owner Sep 15, 2015  Professional General Artist
That's some neat thinking.
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:iconhyrotrioskjan:
Hyrotrioskjan Featured By Owner Sep 15, 2015  Professional General Artist
Great picture Maija, these small fishes get so little attention :thumbsup:
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September 15, 2015
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