Tuesday, 27 October 2015

TW:eed Project Publication on lungfish diversity

This week we are excited to announce that a TW:eed Project paper about lungfish diversity has been published in the journal Palaeontology, authored by Tim Smithson, Kelly Richards and Jenny Clack.  The title of the article is ‘Lungfish diversity in Romer’s Gap: Reaction to the end-Devonian mass extinction’.

The paper describes seven new forms of lungfish tooth plates from the Tournaisian (Ballagan Formation) of the Scottish Borders. This reveals a previously un-recorded radiation of lungfish after the end-Devonian mass extinction. 

Two types of lungfish tooth plate described in the paper, from new species Ballagadus caustrimi (top) and Ctenodus Williei (bottom), scale bars are 10 mm length.

Lungfish at the time had two pairs of bony plates to which teeth were attached, and they crushed their food between the upper and lower pairs of plates. Because of the way they grew - new teeth being added to the outer edge and new rows to the anterior margin - it's easy to distinguish tooth plates from different species. The Tournaisian specimens found were quite distinct from those of the late Devonian. 

One of the new taxa, Xylognathus macrustenus is named in honour of Stan Wood, and another, Ctenodus roberti, is named in Rob Clack’s honour. To find out more you can download the paper for free here and read a lay summary of it on the TW:eedProject website.

Well done to the TW:eed Project’s Palaeontology Team!

Until next time

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