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Re-evaluation of the ontogeny and reproductive biology of the Triassic fish Saurichthys (Actinopterygii, Saurichthyidae)


Maxwell, Erin E; Argyriou, Thodoris; Stockar, Rudolf; Furrer, Heinz (2018). Re-evaluation of the ontogeny and reproductive biology of the Triassic fish Saurichthys (Actinopterygii, Saurichthyidae). Palaeontology, 61(4):559-574.

Abstract

Viviparity has evolved independently at least 12 times in ray-finned fishes. However, the fossil record of actinopterygian viviparity is poor, with only two documented occurrences. Both of these are from the non-teleost actinopterygian Saurichthys, and include S. curionii and S. macrocephalus from the Middle Triassic Meride Limestone (Monte San Giorgio, Switzerland). Here, we present new data on the reproductive biology of these species, giving unprecedented insights into their life-history. Based on positional and preservational criteria, six specimens were identified as unambiguously gravid. Embryos were positioned dorsal to the gastrointestinal tract, parallel to the axial skeleton and to each other, in the posterior two-thirds of the abdominal region. A minimum of 16 embryos are preserved in the most fecund females and, based on the largest preserved embryos and smallest preserved neonates, birth must have occurred at 7–12% of maternal fork length. Embryonic crania and teeth are relatively well-ossified, however ossification of the parietal region is delayed. In the postcranium, the median scale rows and lepidotrichia are ossified, but not the lateral scale rows. Ossified squamation and gradual allometric growth suggests that neonates did not undergo metamorphosis and were relatively precocial. When considered in a phylogenetic context, neither live birth nor internal fertilization appears to represent the primitive state for saurichthyid fishes. Key words: Actinopterygii, Saurichthys, Triassic, Monte San Giorgio, viviparity, allometry

Abstract

Viviparity has evolved independently at least 12 times in ray-finned fishes. However, the fossil record of actinopterygian viviparity is poor, with only two documented occurrences. Both of these are from the non-teleost actinopterygian Saurichthys, and include S. curionii and S. macrocephalus from the Middle Triassic Meride Limestone (Monte San Giorgio, Switzerland). Here, we present new data on the reproductive biology of these species, giving unprecedented insights into their life-history. Based on positional and preservational criteria, six specimens were identified as unambiguously gravid. Embryos were positioned dorsal to the gastrointestinal tract, parallel to the axial skeleton and to each other, in the posterior two-thirds of the abdominal region. A minimum of 16 embryos are preserved in the most fecund females and, based on the largest preserved embryos and smallest preserved neonates, birth must have occurred at 7–12% of maternal fork length. Embryonic crania and teeth are relatively well-ossified, however ossification of the parietal region is delayed. In the postcranium, the median scale rows and lepidotrichia are ossified, but not the lateral scale rows. Ossified squamation and gradual allometric growth suggests that neonates did not undergo metamorphosis and were relatively precocial. When considered in a phylogenetic context, neither live birth nor internal fertilization appears to represent the primitive state for saurichthyid fishes. Key words: Actinopterygii, Saurichthys, Triassic, Monte San Giorgio, viviparity, allometry

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:07 Faculty of Science > Paleontological Institute and Museum
Dewey Decimal Classification:560 Fossils & prehistoric life
Uncontrolled Keywords:Palaeontology, Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
Language:English
Date:1 July 2018
Deposited On:30 Jan 2019 14:54
Last Modified:25 Sep 2019 00:16
Publisher:Wiley-Blackwell Publishing, Inc.
ISSN:0031-0239
OA Status:Closed
Free access at:Publisher DOI. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1111/pala.12355
Project Information:
  • : FunderSNSF
  • : Grant ID200021_144462
  • : Project TitleThe Early and Middle Triassic Biotic Recovery of Marine Chondrichthyes and Osteichthyes: Fine-tuning of the recovery dynamics and paleotemperature curve

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