A long time ago
in a tropical place far, far away, a strange group of tailless
fishes appearedand the neighborhood has never been the same
since. . .
On-going fossil work
coupled with genetic sleuthing is slowly revealing the evolutionary
history of the magnificent Molidae. Fossil jaw parts of the genus
Eomola suggest this family descended from coral reef fishes
sometime in the late Eoceneroughly 55 million years ago (Tyler
and Bannikov, 1992). Since their first appearance, sunfish have
spread into every tropical and temperate ocean.
While the Molidae may
appear primitive, they are in fact relative latecomers to the fish
world. Fishes first emerged over 500 million years ago and the radiation
leading to most modern fishes occurred about 100 million years ago.
It took another 50 million years for Molidae to appear. In fact,
molas are thought to be one of the most derived fish groups in the