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Nat Commun. 2014;5:3144. doi: 10.1038/ncomms4144.

Evolution of long-toothed fishes and the changing nature of fish-benthos interactions on coral reefs.

Author information

1
1] School of Marine and Tropical Biology, James Cook University, Townsville, Queensland 4811, Australia [2] Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies, James Cook University, Townsville, Queensland 4811, Australia.
2
Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies, James Cook University, Townsville, Queensland 4811, Australia.
3
School of Marine and Tropical Biology, James Cook University, Townsville, Queensland 4811, Australia.

Abstract

Interactions between fishes and the benthos have shaped the development of marine ecosystems since at least the early Mesozoic. Here, using the morphology of fish teeth as an indicator of feeding abilities, we quantify changes over the last 240 million years of reef fish evolution. Fossil and extant coral reef fish assemblages reveal exceptional stasis in tooth design over time, with one notable exception, a distinct long-toothed form. Arising only in the last 40 million years, these long-toothed fishes have bypassed the invertebrate link in the food chain, feeding directly on benthic particulate material. With the appearance of elongated teeth, these specialized detritivores have moved from eating invertebrates to eating the food of invertebrates. Over evolutionary time, fishes have slid back down the food chain.

PMID:
24423941
DOI:
10.1038/ncomms4144
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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