Acta Palaeontologica Polonica

Biometric analysis of the teeth of fossil and Recent hexanchid sharks and its taxonomic implications

Sylvain Adnet

Acta Palaeontologica Polonica 51 (3), 2006: 477-488

A biometric analysis of the lower teeth of Recent cow sharks (Hexanchidae) investigates the ontogenetic and phylogenetic aspects of the dental characters employed by many ichthyologists and palaeontologists. The dental characters currently used to separate two extant species of sixgill sharks (Hexanchus griseus and H. nakamurai) are analysed and the fossil record of their relatives reviewed. The main results suggest that the cusp number ratio (number of cusps per mm) is preferable to width of the lower tooth for inference of total body size, at least in species of Hexanchus. The presence of a serrated edge or an enlarged acrocone appears to depend on ontogeny and care must be taken when using these as taxomomic characters. Three Eocene species of Hexanchus, H. collinsonae, H. hookeri, and H. agassizi, and a new assemblage of fossil teeth from the late Ypresian/early Lutetian (Early/Middle Eocene) of south-western France, are also analysed. The first two of these species may be ontogenetic states of H. agassizi. Hexanchus agassizi, belonging to the vituliform lineage and closely related to the living H. nakamurai, is considered here to be the only species of Hexanchus in the Lower to Middle Eocene. A brief overview of Palaeogene Hexanchus, suggests no evidence of the grisiform group (closely related to living H. griseus) before the Late Eocene.

Key words: Elasmobranchii, Hexanchidae, shark teeth, biometry, Eocene.

Sylvain Adnet, OPGC, Laboratoire Magmas et Volcans, CNRS-Université Blaise Pascal. 5 rue Kessler, 63038 Clermont-Ferrand, France.

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