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Large-bodied sabre-toothed anchovies reveal unanticipated ecological diversity in early Palaeogene teleosts
Capobianco, A.; Beckett, H.T.; Steurbaut, E.; Gingerich, P.D.; Carnevale, G.; Friedman, M. (2020). Large-bodied sabre-toothed anchovies reveal unanticipated ecological diversity in early Palaeogene teleosts. Royal Society Open Science 7(5): 192260.
In: Royal Society Open Science. The Royal Society: London. ISSN 2054-5703; e-ISSN 2054-5703
Peer reviewed article  

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Author keywords
    Clupeomorpha; computed tomography; ecological release; ichthyology;Palaeogene; piscivory

Authors  Top 
  • Capobianco, A.
  • Beckett, H.T.
  • Steurbaut, E.
  • Gingerich, P.D.
  • Carnevale, G.
  • Friedman, M.

    Many modern groups of marine fishes first appear in the fossil record during the early Palaeogene (66–40 Ma), including iconic predatory lineages of spiny-rayed fishes that appear to have originated in response to ecological roles left empty after the Cretaceous/Palaeogene extinction. The hypothesis of extinction-mediated ecological release likewise predicts that other fish groups have adopted novel predatory ecologies. Here, we report remarkable trophic innovation in early Palaeogene clupeiforms (herrings and allies), a group whose modern representatives are generally small-bodied planktivores. Two forms, the early Eocene (Ypresian) †Clupeopsis from Belgium and a new genus from the middle Eocene (Lutetian) of Pakistan, bear conspicuous features indicative of predatory ecology, including large size, long gapes and caniniform dentition. Most remarkable is the presence of a single, massive vomerine fang offset from the midline in both. Numerous features of the neurocranium, suspensorium and branchial skeleton place these taxa on the engraulid (anchovy) stem as the earliest known representatives of the clade. The identification of large-bodied, piscivorous anchovies contributes to an emerging picture of a phylogenetically diverse guild of predatory ray-finned fishes in early Palaeogene marine settings, which include completely extinct lineages alongside members of modern marine groups and taxa that are today restricted to freshwater or deep-sea environments.

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