Palaeontology: Beyond the Age of Fishes

  title={Palaeontology: Beyond the Age of Fishes},
  author={Michael I. Coates},
  • M. Coates
  • Published 26 March 2009
  • Environmental Science
  • Nature
Discovery of an unusually intact and ancient fossil fish provides further evidence that the search for modern vertebrate origins requires breaking out of the Devonian and into the preceding period. 

The largest Silurian vertebrate and its palaeoecological implications

The largest pre-Devonian vertebrate described is a predatory marine osteichthyan from the Silurian Kuanti Formation of Yunnan, China, with an estimated length of about 1 meter, and this finding refutes the assumption that pre-Emsian vertebrates were restricted to small body sizes.

A new osteichthyan from the late Silurian of Yunnan, China

A phylogenetic analysis resolves Sparalepis within a previously recovered cluster of stem-sarcopterygians including Guiyu, Psarolepis and Achoania, suggesting that the South China block may have been an early center of diversification for early gnathostomes, well before the advent of the Devonian “Age of Fishes”.

A new actinopterygian from the Late Devonian Gogo Formation, Western Australia

The study of early actinopterygians (ray‐finned fishes) from the Devonian has been hampered by imperfect preservation in the majority of taxa. The Late Devonian (early Frasnian) Gogo Formation of

Neurocranial anatomy of an enigmatic Early Devonian fish sheds light on early osteichthyan evolution

A second skull of ‘Ligulalepis’ is described and micro-CT data is presented to reveal novel anatomical features, including cranial endocasts, which are shown to be variable in its development between specimens.

Muscle development in the shark Scyliorhinus canicula: implications for the evolution of the gnathostome head and paired appendage musculature

Analysis of the development of specific muscular units integrating the cephalic and appendicular musculature of the shark model, Scyliorhinus canicula, suggests that head tissues have contributed to the formation of the pectoral appendages in the common ancestor of extant gnathostomes.

Cranial morphology of the Silurian sarcopterygian Guiyu oneiros (Gnathostomata: Osteichthyes)

The skull roof bone pattern in the Guiyu clade that comprises Psarolepis and Achoania is restored, for the first time, and the large attachment area of the basicranial muscle indicates the presence of a well-developed intracranial joint in GuiyU.

Transposable elements dynamics in taxa with different reproductive strategies or speciation rate

An evolutionary framework to establish the different rate of speciation among two or more taxa, then a comparison of the dynamics of the TE dynamics in three species of stick-insects of the Genus Bacillus and a contribute to the debate initiated in recent years about the possibility that a high TE content is linked to a high rate of Speciation.

Evolutionary hallmarks of the human proteome: chasing the age and coregulation of protein-coding genes

A combined analysis of human protein-coding gene expression profiling and time-scale ancestry mapping, that places the genes in taxonomy clades and reveals eight evolutionary major steps (“hallmarks”), that include clusters of functionally coherent proteins.



Palaeontology: Something fishy in the family tree

The bony fishes gave rise to two living subgroups, the ray-finned fishes, and the lobe-fins and tetrapods (or land vertebrates, including ourselves). An analysis of the evolutionary position of a

The oldest articulated osteichthyan reveals mosaic gnathostome characters

The discovery of an exceptionally preserved primitive fish from the Ludlow of Yunnan, China, that represents the oldest near-complete gnathostome (jawed vertebrate) offers insights into the origin and early divergence of osteichthyans, and indicates that the minimum date for the actinopterygian–sarcoperygian split was no later than 419 million years ago.

Styloichthys as the oldest coelacanth: Implications for early osteichthyan interrelationships

A revised cladistic analysis places Styloichthys as the most basal coelacanth, which, if correct, fills conspicuous stratigraphic and morphological gaps in the fossil record of this clade.

A primitive fossil fish sheds light on the origin of bony fishes

This first tentative reconstruction of a 400-million-year-old fossil fish from China is presented, which changes the polarity of many characters used at present in reconstructing osteichthyan inter-relationships and offers new insights into the origin and evolution of osteichthyans.

The oldest articulated chondrichthyan from the Early Devonian period

This specimen is the oldest shark showing the tooth families in situ, and preserves one of the oldest chondrichthyan braincases, and shows the presence of paired pectoral fin-spines, previously unknown in cartilaginous fishes.

The braincase and jaws of a Devonian ‘acanthodian’ and modern gnathostome origins

The first-known braincase of an Early Devonian acanthodian is presented, andylogenetic analysis resolves Ptomacanthus as either the most basal chondrichthyan or as the sister group of all living gnathostomes, to provide a more detailed picture of the acquisition of early Gnathostome characters.

A primitive fish provides key characters bearing on deep osteichthyan phylogeny

This 405-million-year-old fish from the Lower Devonian of Yunnan (China) demonstrates that cosmine in many fossil sarcopterygians arose step by step through the acquisition of a pore–canal network followed by the subsequently developed ability to resorb previous generations of odontodes and enamel.


This specimen is the first early osteichthyan to demonstrate the presence of an eyestalk, previously known only in placoderms and chondrichthyans.

Jaws and teeth of the earliest bony fishes

Andreolepis and Lophosteus are not only the oldest but also the most phylogenetically basal securely identified osteichthyans known so far, indicating that they can be assigned to the stem group.