Article: Osteoglossid and lepisosteid fish remains from the Paleocene Palana Formation, Rajasthan, India
K. Kumar, R. S. Rana and B. S. Paliwal
A new fossil osteoglossid fish, Taverneichthys bikanericus gen. et sp. nov. and an unnamed but probable new species of ?Lepisosteus (Lepisosteidae) are described from the subsurface beds of the Palana (lignite) Formation near Bikaner, western Rajasthan, India. T. bikanericus is founded on a skull, which is the first osteoglossid skull from the Indian subcontinent, whereas ?Lepisosteus sp. is represented by a part of its trunk covered with ganoid scales. The taxonomic assignment of the latter specimen to gars is based on the micro- and ultrastructure of its scales. Taverneichthys is included in the Osteoglossinae because it shares at least three of the seven diagnostic characters of the subfamily: (1) jaw articulation behind the vertical midline of orbit, (2) palatine and ectopterygoid fused to form palato-ectopterygoid, and (3) horizontal arm of preopercle short, ending anteriorly behind orbit (inferred). It is characterized by a considerably larger dermethmoid bone and the two nasals that are in contact with each other behind it separating this bone from the frontals. In this respect it is more evolved than Cretophareodus and Phareodus, and closer to Brychaetus, Musperia, Opsithrissops and modern osteoglossids. The fossils documented herein are the first vertebrate remains from the Palana Formation. They were recovered from a highly indurated greyish-black calcareous shale approximately 90 m below ground level from a dug-well section. The occurrence of fossil remains of osteoglossid and lepisosteid fish in the Palana Formation, both of which are among the major predators of a terrestrial aquatic community, and their association with the crocodilian remains, are indicative of the mature and diverse nature of the Palana vertebrate community. It postulates the recovery of a varied assemblage of vertebrates, especially fish and crocodilians and possibly also mammals. The association of osteoglossid and lepisosteid fish characterizes a dominantly freshwater deposit and is consistent with a Paleocene age for the Palana Formation. The known distribution of fossil and living osteoglossid and lepisosteid fish suggests a marked shift in their climatic adaptability in time and space. Their close association in the fossil record, especially in the Indian subcontinent, is well documented, but today they thrive in different climatic zones.