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You are here: Home / Library / RBINS Staff Publications 2017 / A peculiar fish jaw with molariform teeth from the early Eocene of Tadkeshwar Mine, India highlights diversity and evolution of early gymnodont tetraodontiforms

Thierry Smith, Katherine E. Bemis, James C. Tyler, William E. Bemis, Kishor Kumar and Rajendra S. Rana (2017)

A peculiar fish jaw with molariform teeth from the early Eocene of Tadkeshwar Mine, India highlights diversity and evolution of early gymnodont tetraodontiforms

In: Society of Vertebrate Paleontology, 77th annual meeting, vol. Meeting Program and Abstracts, August 23-26 2017, Calgary, Canada, pp. 197.

Excavations during 2015 at a channel deposit in the early Eocene Cambay Shale Formation of the Tadkeshwar open cast lignite mine near Vastan in Gujarat Province, western India, have yielded terrestrial mammals, lizards, snakes, frogs, and birds as well as a few marine/brackish-water animals, predominantly teeth of the shark Physogaleus and Myliobatis rays. Among these is a jaw of an unusual teleost. This lower jaw of a gymnodont has fused dentaries, lacks a beak, and shows a remarkable series of teeth that are unique among all known fossil and living Tetraodontiformes. The teeth are molariform with raised “spokes” radiating inward from the emarginated peripheral edge of the crown. Tooth development is intraosseous, with new teeth developing in spongy bone before they erupt and attach to the dentary by pedicels. Although many of the 110 tooth loci in the fossil specimen have lost their teeth, in life the teeth would have grown to fit tightly together to form a broad and continuous crushing surface. The estimated age of the early Eocene Cambay Shale vertebrate fauna is ca. 54.5 Ma, making the jaw the second oldest confirmed gymnodont fossil. Comparisons to extant taxa of gymnodonts with fused dentaries (e.g., Diodon, Chilomycterus, and Mola) offer few clues about evolutionary relationships of the new fossil. Although the fused dentaries suggest affinities to diodontids and molids among living tetraodontiforms, it remains challenging to interpret phylogenetic relationships of the new Indian gymnodont because no living or fossil tetraodontoid has similar tooth morphology. We describe it as a new genus and species, and place it in its own new family of Gymnodontes. Grant Information: National Geographic Society, Leakey Foundation, Belgian Science Policy Office, Tontogany Creek Fund, National Science Foundation, Wadia Institute of Himalayan Geology.
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