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PLoS One. 2017 Feb 7;12(2):e0171241. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0171241. eCollection 2017.

The internal cranial anatomy of Romundina stellina Ørvig, 1975 (Vertebrata, Placodermi, Acanthothoraci) and the origin of jawed vertebrates-Anatomical atlas of a primitive gnathostome.

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Science for Life Laboratory and Uppsala University, Department of Organismal Biology, Subdepartment of Evolution and Development, Norbyvägen, SE Uppsala, Sweden.
European Synchrotron Radiation Facility, Grenoble, France.
Centre de Recherche sur la Paléobiodiversité et les Paléoenvironnements (CR2P, UMR 7207), Sorbonne Universités, MNHN, CNRS, UPMC-Paris 6, Muséum National d'Histoire Naturelle, Paris, France.


Placoderms are considered as the first jawed vertebrates and constitute a paraphyletic group in the stem-gnathostome grade. The acanthothoracid placoderms are among the phylogenetically most basal and morphologically primitive gnathostomes, but their neurocranial anatomy is poorly understood. Here we present a near-complete three-dimensional skull of Romundina stellina, a small Early Devonian acanthothoracid from the Canadian Arctic Archipelago, scanned with propagation phase contrast microtomography at a 7.46 μm isotropic voxel size at the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility, Grenoble, France. This is the first model of an early gnathostome skull produced using this technique, and as such represents a major advance in objectivity compared to past descriptions of placoderm neurocrania on the basis of grinding series. Despite some loss of material along an oblique crack, most of the internal structures are remarkably preserved, and most of the missing structures can be reconstructed by symmetry. This virtual approach offers the possibility to connect with certainty all the external foramina to the blood and nerve canals and the central structures, and thus identify accurate homologies without destroying the specimen. The high level of detail enables description of the main arterial, venous and nerve canals of the skull, and other perichondrally ossified endocranial structures such as the palatoquadrate articulations, the endocranial cavity and the inner ear cavities. The braincase morphology appears less extreme than that of Brindabellaspis, and is in some respects more reminiscent of a basal arthrodire such as Kujdanowiaspis.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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Conflict of interest statement

Daniel Goujet was employed by Muséum National d’Histoire Naturelle during part of the study. The commercial affiliation (MNHN) of DG does not alter the authors' adherence to PLOS ONE policies on sharing data and materials.

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