The latest discovery of researchers suggests that the appearance of the first flying fish may have changed through the years in order to protect itself from marine predators. As a reported defense mechanism, the modern flying fish has this interesting ability to glide through air up to 1,300 feet (400 meters) in just 30 seconds with the approximation that the specie could reach maximum flight speed up to 45 mph (72 kph).
Tehrantimes.com reports that the scientists carefully examined the fossil remains exhumed from southwest China back in 2009. It was identified as the marine fish called "Potanichthys xingyiensis" where "Potanos" means winged, "ichthys" means fish in Greek and "xingyiensis" refers to Xingyi which is the name of the city where the fossil was discovered. However, the modern flying fish did not originate from this particular fossil where its capability to glide on water may have developed by itself with its prehistoric lineage.
In Beijing, a paleontologist named Guang-Hui Xu at the Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology claimed that the "discovery of Potanichthys significantly adds to our knowledge of the ecological complexity in the Middle Triassic of the Paleotethys Ocean."
Guang-Hui Xu also shared other additional knowledge about the flying fish to LiveScience. "In modern ecosystems, due to limitations of muscle function, flying fishes are unlikely capable of flight at temperatures below 20 degrees C (68 degrees F). We can reasonably apply similar limitations to the Triassic thoracopterids and we suggest that Potanichthys adds a new datum supporting a generally hot climate in the Middle Triassic eastern Paleotethys Ocean," Xu said.
Furthermore, Xu acknowledged that "end-Permian mass extinction was the most dramatic event to impact ecological systems on Earth and recovery from this extinction has long been viewed as more prolonged than the recoveries following other mass extinctions." Researchers have also come across other fossils similar to Potanichthys including marine reptiles like the dolphin-shaped ichthyosaurs. It is believed that these creatures may have developed due to the same reason of surviving from the attack of perilous predators.