Exceptional fossil preservation demonstrates a new mode of axial skeleton elongation in early ray-finned fishes.

Publication Type:Journal Article
Year of Publication:2013
Authors:E. E. Maxwell, Furrer, H., Sánchez-Villagra, M. R.
Journal:Nat Commun
Date Published:2013

Elongate body plans have evolved independently multiple times in vertebrates, and involve either an increase in the number or in the length of the vertebrae. Here, we describe a new mechanism of body elongation in saurichthyids, an extinct group of elongate early ray-finned fishes. The rare preservation of soft tissue in a specimen of Saurichthys curionii from the Middle Triassic (Ladinian) of Switzerland provides significant new information on the relationship between the musculature and the skeleton. This new fossil material shows that elongation in these fishes results from doubling the number of neural arch-like elements per myomeric segment. This unique way of generating an elongate body plan demonstrates the evolutionary lability of the vertebral column in non-teleostean fishes. The shape and arrangement of preserved myosepta suggest that S. curionii was not a highly flexible fish, in spite of the increase in the number of neural arch-like elements.

Alternate Journal:Nat Commun
Scratchpads developed and conceived by (alphabetical): Ed Baker, Katherine Bouton Alice Heaton Dimitris Koureas, Laurence Livermore, Dave Roberts, Simon Rycroft, Ben Scott, Vince Smith