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Regional disparity in the axial skeleton of Saurichthyidae and implications for axial regionalization in non‐teleostean actinopterygians


Maxwell, E E; Romano, C; Wu, F‐X (2021). Regional disparity in the axial skeleton of Saurichthyidae and implications for axial regionalization in non‐teleostean actinopterygians. Journal of Zoology, 315(1):29-41.

Abstract

The postcranial axial skeleton of actinopterygian fishes is typically divided into three regions: (1) an anterior abdominal region, (2) a posterior caudal region and (3) those vertebrae supporting the caudal fin. However, in some actinopterygians, the axial skeleton is more finely subdivided, with up to six morphologically distinctsub-regions recognized. Phylogenetic continuity and homology of structures across these sub-regions have not been investigated in detail, either between or among groups. We examine variation in axial regionalization in saurichthyid fishes, a clade of extinct non-teleostean actinopterygians with highly variable axial skeletal morphology but an otherwise conservative body plan, and compare these findings to other non-teleostean actinopterygians to assess conservation of a regionalized axial skeleton within bony fishes. We document up to eight distinct regions in the vertebral column of Triassic Saurichthys: (1) a postoccipital region, (2) an anterior and (3) a posterior abdominal region, (4) a transitional region spanning the abdominal–caudal boundary, (5) an anterior and (6) a posterior caudal region and (7) preural and (8) ural regions. Based on taphonomical and morphological evidence, the transitional region appears to function in axial stiffening in the area of the median fins, whereas the abdominal region is highly flexible. The degree to which these axial regions are osteologically differentiated is highly variable across Saurichthyidae, implying iterative evolution of differentiation and de-differentiation over relatively short geological timescales. Such variably expressed regionalization was also identified in the outgroup non-teleostean actinopterygians Birgeria and Australosomus. Despite variation in morphological disparity, the regions identified in saurichthyids correlate well with those documented in some teleosts and Paleozoic actinopterygians, suggesting potential deep patterning homology but independent evolution of specific regionalized axial morphologies in response to changing functional demands.

Abstract

The postcranial axial skeleton of actinopterygian fishes is typically divided into three regions: (1) an anterior abdominal region, (2) a posterior caudal region and (3) those vertebrae supporting the caudal fin. However, in some actinopterygians, the axial skeleton is more finely subdivided, with up to six morphologically distinctsub-regions recognized. Phylogenetic continuity and homology of structures across these sub-regions have not been investigated in detail, either between or among groups. We examine variation in axial regionalization in saurichthyid fishes, a clade of extinct non-teleostean actinopterygians with highly variable axial skeletal morphology but an otherwise conservative body plan, and compare these findings to other non-teleostean actinopterygians to assess conservation of a regionalized axial skeleton within bony fishes. We document up to eight distinct regions in the vertebral column of Triassic Saurichthys: (1) a postoccipital region, (2) an anterior and (3) a posterior abdominal region, (4) a transitional region spanning the abdominal–caudal boundary, (5) an anterior and (6) a posterior caudal region and (7) preural and (8) ural regions. Based on taphonomical and morphological evidence, the transitional region appears to function in axial stiffening in the area of the median fins, whereas the abdominal region is highly flexible. The degree to which these axial regions are osteologically differentiated is highly variable across Saurichthyidae, implying iterative evolution of differentiation and de-differentiation over relatively short geological timescales. Such variably expressed regionalization was also identified in the outgroup non-teleostean actinopterygians Birgeria and Australosomus. Despite variation in morphological disparity, the regions identified in saurichthyids correlate well with those documented in some teleosts and Paleozoic actinopterygians, suggesting potential deep patterning homology but independent evolution of specific regionalized axial morphologies in response to changing functional demands.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:07 Faculty of Science > Department of Paleontology
Dewey Decimal Classification:560 Fossils & prehistoric life
Scopus Subject Areas:Life Sciences > Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
Life Sciences > Animal Science and Zoology
Uncontrolled Keywords:Animal Science and Zoology, Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
Language:English
Date:8 March 2021
Deposited On:10 Mar 2021 16:12
Last Modified:24 Feb 2024 02:48
Publisher:Wiley-Blackwell Publishing, Inc.
ISSN:0952-8369
OA Status:Hybrid
Free access at:Publisher DOI. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1111/jzo.12878
  • Content: Published Version
  • Language: English
  • Licence: Creative Commons: Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International (CC BY-NC 4.0)