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Cranial anatomy of the predatory actinopterygian Brazilichthys macrognathus from the Permian (Cisuralian) Pedra de Fogo Formation, Parnaíba Basin, Brazil

By Rodrigo T. Figueroa, Matt Friedman, Valéria Gallo

Posted 05 Feb 2019
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/540310 (published DOI: 10.1080/02724634.2019.1639722)

Brazilichthys macrognathus is the only named actinopterygian from the Permain (Cisuralian) Pedra de Fogo Formation of northeastern Brazil, where it is represented by a single three-dimensionally preserved but incompletely described skull of unclear systematic placement. We used X-ray computed microtomography (μ-CT) to better document its anatomy and phylogenetic affinities. μ-CT reveals parts of the internal skeleton. We correct errors in original description, including the number of infraorbital bones and the misidentification of the dermosphenotic as sclerotic ossifications. These reinterpretations of external anatomy are joined by new data on internal structure, including the palate, parasphenoid, and branchial and hyoid arches. A maximum parsimony analysis of anatomical data resolves Brazilichthys as a stem actinopterygian, crownward of all Devonian species. This placement is supported by the absence of a dermosphenotic posterior ramus and the presence of opercular process of the hyomandibula. A similar placement is suggested by a Bayesian analysis of this same dataset, although relationships throughout the tree are less resolved. Our results reject previous interpretations of Brazilichthys as a relative of Birgeriidae, a Triassic group consistently placed within the actinopterygian crown. Although Acrolepis is too poorly known to be included in our analysis, we also reject a close relationship between this taxon and Brazilichthys, as their only shared similarities appear to be broadly distributed among early actinopterygians.

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