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Article: Computed tomography scanning as a tool for linking the skeletal and otolith‐based fossil records of teleost fishes

Palaeontology Cover Image - Volume 61 Part 4
Publication: Palaeontology
Volume: 61
Part: 4
Publication Date: July 2018
Page(s): 511 541
Author(s): Werner Schwarzhans, Hermione T. Beckett, Jason D. Schein, and Matt Friedman
Addition Information

How to Cite

SCHWARZHANS, W., BECKETT, H.T., SCHEIN, J.D., FRIEDMAN, M. 2018. Computed tomography scanning as a tool for linking the skeletal and otolith‐based fossil records of teleost fishes. Palaeontology, 61, 4, 511-541. DOI: 10.1111/pala.12349

Author Information

  • Werner Schwarzhans - Zoological Museum Natural History Museum of Denmark Copenhagen Denmark
  • Hermione T. Beckett - Department of Earth Sciences University of Oxford Oxford UK
  • Jason D. Schein - Bighorn Basin Paleontological Institute Willow Grove PA USA
  • Matt Friedman - Department of Earth Sciences University of Oxford Oxford UK
  • Matt Friedman - Department of Earth & Environmental Sciences, & Museum of Paleontology University of Michigan Ann Arbor MI USA

Publication History

  • Issue published online: 12 June 2018
  • Manuscript Accepted: 27 November 2017
  • Manuscript Received: 11 August 2017

Funded By

DTP Environmental Research. Grant Number: NE/L0021612/1
Leverhulme Project Grant. Grant Number: RPG‐2012‐658
Leverhulme Prize. Grant Number: PLP‐2012‐130

Online Version Hosted By

Wiley Online Library
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Micro‐computed tomography (μCT) scanning now represents a standard tool for non‐destructive study of internal or concealed structure in fossils. Here we report on otoliths found in situ during routine μCT scanning of three‐dimensionally preserved skulls of Palaeogene and Cretaceous fishes. Comparisons are made with isolated otolith‐based taxa to attempt correlations between the body fossil and otolith fossil records. In situ otoliths previously extracted mechanically from specimens of Apogon macrolepis and Dentex laekeniensis match our μCT models. In some cases, we find a high degree of congruence between previously independent taxonomic placements for otolith and skeletal remains (Rhinocephalus, Osmeroides, Hoplopteryx). Unexpectedly, in situ otoliths of the aulopiform Apateodus match isolated otoliths of Late Cretaceous age previously interpreted as belonging to gempylids, a group of percomorph fishes that do not appear in the body fossil record until the Palaeogene. This striking example of convergence suggests constraints on otolith geometry in pelagic predators. The otoliths of Apateodus show a primitive geometry for aulopiforms and lack the derived features of Alepisauroidea, the lizardfish clade to which the genus is often attributed. In situ otoliths of Early Cretaceous fishes (Apsopelix and an unidentified taxon) are not well preserved, and we are unable to identify clear correlations with isolated otolith morphologies. We conclude that the preservation of otoliths suitable for μCT scanning appears to be intimately connected with the taphonomic history, lithological characteristics of surrounding matrix, and syn‐ and postdepositional diagenetic effects.

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