The most primitive osteichthyan braincase?

A M BasdenA Ritchie


Most living vertebrates, from teleosts to tetrapods, are osteichthyans (bony fishes), but the origin of this major group is poorly understood. The actinopterygians (ray-finned bony fishes) are the most successful living vertebrates in terms of diversity. They appear in the fossil record in the Late Silurian but are poorly known before the Late Devonian. Here we report the discovery of the oldest and most primitive actinopterygian-like osteichthyan braincase known, from 400-million-year-old limestone in southeastern Australia. This specimen displays previously unknown primitive conditions, in particular, an opening for a cartilaginous eyestalk. It provides an important and unique counterpart to the similarly aged and recently described Psarolepis from China and Vietnam. The contrasting features of these specimens, and the unusual anatomy of the new specimen in particular, provide new insights into anatomical conditions close to the evolutionary radiation of all modern osteichthyan groups.


Jan 2, 1975·Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London. Series B, Biological Sciences·C Patterson

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