|Named By:||Errol White 1946|
|Size:||Around 27 centimetres long|
|Classification:||| Chordata | Hyperoartia ||
Jamoytius kerwoodi was a species of primitive, eel-like jawless fish that lived in the Llandovery epoch of the Early Silurian period.
Long thought of as a "basal anaspid," J. kerwoodi is now recognized as the best-known member of the Hyperoartian order Jamoytiiformes. It had an elongated body, and is thought to have had, in comparison with relatives known from intact bodies like Euphanerops, a dorsal fin and an anal fin near the posteriormost third of its body. Earlier reconstructions depict the creature as having side-fins running the length of its body, starting from behind the branchial openings to the tip of its tail: new research demonstrates that such "fins" are actually deformations of the bodywall as the corpse was being squished post-burial. In life, J. kerwoodi resembled a lamprey with a very small mouth. Because the fossil had no teeth, teeth-like structures, nor suggestions of either in its mouth, it was not carnivorous like many modern lampreys. It was more likely to have been a filter-feeder or a detrius-feeder, possibly in the manner of larval lampreys.
The fish had a cartilaginous skeleton, and a branchial basket resembling the cyclostomes - used to suggest that it was a near-ancestor to that clade. It is also the earliest known vertebrate with camera-type eyes. It also possessed weakly mineralised scales.