SYDNEY-A 150-million-year-old fish fossil with piranha-like teeth is the oldest flesh-eating fish ever discovered, Australian researchers said on Friday.

The fish, which lived in the age of the dinosaurs, was found alongside its prey - other fish with chunks missing from their fins - in limestone deposits in South Germany, the researchers said in a statement.

“We have other fish from the same locality with chunks missing from their fins,” said James Cook University researcher David Bellwood.

“This is an amazing parallel with modern piranhas, which feed predominantly not on flesh but the fins of other fishes. It’s a remarkably smart move as fins regrow, a neat renewable resource. Feed on a fish and it is dead; nibble its fins and you have food for the future.”

Features of the newly described fish such as its tooth pattern and jaw mechanics also suggest a mouth equipped to slice flesh or fins, with “the possibility that the early piranha-like fish may have exploited aggressive mimicry in a striking parallel to the feeding patterns of modern piranha,” according to the study, which also involved Germany’s Jura-Museum. The latest findings were reported in scientific journal Current Biology.

“The new finding represents the earliest record of a bony fish that bits off other fishes, and what’s more it was doing it in the sea,” said Bellwood.

“So when dinosaurs were walking the earth and small dinosaurs were trying to fly with the pterosaurs, fish were swimming around their feet tearing the fins or flesh off each other.”