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Free Content An Overview of the Early Fossil Record of Acanthomorphs

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Fossil acanthomorph fishes from the Cretaceous and early Tertiary (Paleocene, early Eocene) of the world are reviewed. There are no Lower Cretaceous acanthomorphs. The Cenomanian, the earliest stage of the Upper Cretaceous, has yielded over 20 genera of acanthomorphs belonging to about five extant taxa: Polymixiidae, Trachichthyoidei, Holocentroidei, Tetraodontiformes, and possibly Zeiformes. The remainder of the Upper Cretaceous adds relatively little to this diversity, but contains the earliest paracanthopterygian and gasterosteiform, and one possible perciform. It is notable that all the better-known Cretaceous acanthomorphs are polymixiids, stem-group acanthomorphs, and stem-group trachichthyoids or holocentroids. The Cretaceous tetraodontiforms, gasterosteiform, and possible zeiforms and perciform are represented by single diminutive specimens, or by incompletely described material, so that in every case there is doubt about their structure and relationships. There is a marked gap of about 20 million years in the acanthomorph record between the late Campanian (ca. 75 Ma) and the late Paleocene (ca. 55 Ma). By the late Paleocene, there is a diverse fauna of paracanthopterygians, gasterosteiforms and perciforms, and lampridiforms and zeiforms are also present. Monte Bolca, at the base of the Middle Eocene (ca. 50 Ma), contains a diversity of acanthomorphs clearly foreshadowing the Recent fauna. Progress in the systematics of Recent acanthomorphs (characterization of groups and subgroups) is necessary before more sense can be made of early fossil acanthomorphs.

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 1993-01-01

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  • The Bulletin of Marine Science is dedicated to the dissemination of high quality research from the world's oceans. All aspects of marine science are treated by the Bulletin of Marine Science, including papers in marine biology, biological oceanography, fisheries, marine affairs, applied marine physics, marine geology and geophysics, marine and atmospheric chemistry, and meteorology and physical oceanography.
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