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Naturwissenschaften. 2015 Apr;102(3-4):10. doi: 10.1007/s00114-015-1262-y. Epub 2015 Feb 17.

Evidence of a specialized feeding niche in a Late Triassic ray-finned fish: evolution of multidenticulate teeth and benthic scraping in †Hemicalypterus.

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1
Department of Geology and Biodiversity Institute, University of Kansas, 1345 Jayhawk Boulevard, Lawrence, KS, 66045, USA, szgibson@ku.edu.

Abstract

Fishes have evolved to exploit multiple ecological niches. Extant fishes in both marine (e.g., rabbitfishes, surgeonfishes) and freshwater systems (e.g., haplochromine cichlids, characiforms) have evolved specialized, scoop-like, multidenticulate teeth for benthic scraping, feeding primarily on algae. Here, I report evidence of the oldest example of specialized multidenticulate dentition in a ray-finned fish, †Hemicalypterus weiri, from the Upper Triassic Chinle Formation of southeastern Utah (∼210-205 Ma), USA. †H. weiri is a lower actinopterygian species that is phylogenetically remote from modern fishes, and has evolved specialized teeth that converge with those of several living teleost fishes (e.g., characiforms, cichlids, acanthurids, siganids), with a likely function of these teeth being to scrape algae off a rock substrate. This finding contradicts previously held notions that fishes with multicuspid, scoop-like dentition were restricted to teleosts, and indicates that ray-finned fishes were diversifying into different trophic niches and exploring different modes of feeding earlier in their history than previously thought, fundamentally altering our perceptions of the ecological roles of fishes during the Mesozoic.

PMID:
25686871
DOI:
10.1007/s00114-015-1262-y
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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