Acta Palaeontologica Polonica

An enigmatic chondrichthyan with Paleozoic affinities from the Lower Triassic of western Canada

Raoul J. Mutter and Andrew G. Neuman

Acta Palaeontologica Polonica 51 (2), 2006: 271-282

Listracanthus pectenatus sp. nov. represents the youngest record of the enigmatic chondrichthyan Listracanthus. This new species is the only Mesozoic record of this genus and highlights survival of a rare and enigmatic group of cartilaginous fishes across the Paleozoic-Mesozoic boundary. In the Vega-Phroso Siltstone Member of the Sulphur Mountain Formation (western Canada), two kinds of numerous dermal denticles identified as Listracanthus occur predominantly in strata probably of early Smithian age. The new species differs from all other known species of the genus in the structure of the anterior and posterior borders of the large denticles. The small denticles appear to be less diagnostic than the large ones and are readily distinguished from small denticles generally assigned to the genus Petrodus. Histology reveals that the largest denticles were originally hollow, probably secondarily ossified as acellular bone. The conclusion drawn by previous authors that Listracanthus may be a petalodontid shark, based on ambiguous non-skeletal associations with Deltoptychius, Petrodus, or Calopodus is not supported by this study. The large number of denticles, the size of both types of denticles and their arrangement suggest that Listracanthus pectenatus sp. nov. was a large chondrichthyan of aberrant body shape and yet uncertain systematic position.

Key words: Chondrichthyes, denticles, Listracanthus, Smithian, histology, British Columbia.

Raoul J. Mutter [ ], Department of Palaeontology, The Natural History Museum, Cromwell Road, London SW7 5BD, United Kingdom; Andrew G. Neuman [ ], Royal Tyrrell Museum of Palaeontology, P.O. Box 7500, Drumheller AB, T0J 0Y0, Canada.

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