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You are here: Home / Library / RBINS Staff Publications 2021 OA / On the presence of an ocean sunfish (Tetraodontiformes, Molidae) in the Miocene Pietra Leccese formation of Southern Italy

Alberto Collareta, Emanuele Peri, Giorgio Carnevale, Mark Bosselaers, and Giovanni Bianucci (2021)

On the presence of an ocean sunfish (Tetraodontiformes, Molidae) in the Miocene Pietra Leccese formation of Southern Italy

Neues Jahrbuch für Geologie und Paläontologie - Abhandlungen, 301(2):147-155.

The ocean sunfishes of the family Molidae comprise one of the tetraodontiform clades with the least known fossil record. Here, we report on what appears to be an isolated paraxial ossicle likely pertaining to the Molidae from a widely known marine vertebrate-bearing deposit of Southern Italy, i.e., the Miocene Pietra Leccese formation of Apulia. Thus far, paraxial ossicles are exclusively known from the genus Mola; however, the possibility that some extinct species of Ranzania or Masturus developed paraxial ossicles cannot be definitively ruled out, hence the attribution of the fossil described herein to an indeterminate taxon of the family Molidae. A careful scrutiny of palaeoichthyological literature reveals that, besides contributing to the meagre Mediterranean and global fossil record of the Molidae, the Apulian ossicle may be regarded as the best candidate to represent the first fossil find of the genus Mola from the Mediterranean Basin. In light of the environmental preferences of extant molids, the occurrence of an ocean sunfish in the Pietra Leccese matches well the warm-water, highly productive, outer neritic setting witnessed by this sedimentary unit and its fossil content. Considering also that the Miocene has been recognised as a time span of increased abundance and diversity of ocean sunfishes worldwide, our find should encourage the quest for new, hopefully articulated specimens of molids in this celebrated fossiliferous limestone.
Impact Factor
clavus • dermal plate • Mediterranean Basin •, Masturus, •, Mola, • palaeobiogeography • palaeoecology • palaeoichthyology • paraxial ossicle •, Ranzania

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