100-Million-Year Dynasty of Giant Planktivorous Bony Fishes in the Mesozoic Seas

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Science  19 Feb 2010:
Vol. 327, Issue 5968, pp. 990-993
DOI: 10.1126/science.1184743

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  1. Fig. 1

    Newly recognized fossils of giant Mesozoic suspension-feeding bony fishes. (A) †Rhinconichthys taylori gen. et sp. nov., BMNH 219, from the lower Upper Cretaceous (Cenomanian) Lower Chalk of Kent, UK, in right- and left-lateral views. (B) Indeterminate edentulous †pachycormid, BMNH P.41669, from the lower Middle Jurassic (Bajocian) Inferior Oolite of Dorset, UK, in dorsal and ventral view (anterior is toward the top). Matrix has been digitally masked so as to enhance contrast, and preserved bone that would have been visible externally in the ventral and dorsal views is shaded in tentative reconstruction based on †Martillichthys and †Pachycormus. Scale bars apply only to fossils. boc, basioccipital; brs, branchiostegal rays; cbr, certobranchials; chy, anterior ceratohyal; de, dentary; dpt, dermopterotic; ent, entopterygoid; fr, frontal; gu, median gular; hhy, hypohyal; hym, hyomandibula; mtp, metapterygoid; mx, maxilla; psp, parasphenoid; rde, rostrodermethmoid; and scl, sclerotic ring. Paired bones are listed as right (r) or left (l).

  2. Fig. 2

    Bonnerichthys gladius gen. nov., a giant suspension-feeding bony fish from the Upper Cretaceous of the United States. (A) Neurocranium and parasphenoid in ventral view. (B) Gular plate in ventral view. (C) Cranial and pectoral skeleton, shown in right-lateral view. Bones that were reconstructed from other specimens are shown in gray. (D) Hypural plate in right-lateral view. Scale bar in (C) applies to (A) to (D). (A) to (C) show specimen KUVP 60692; (D) shows specimen FHSM (Sternberg Museum, Hays, Kansas) VP-17428. (E) Tentative reconstruction in ventral (top) and lateral (bottom) views, indicating life position of bones shown in (A) to (D). ant, antorbital; ar, articular; cle, cleithrum; dsp, dermosphenotic; ect, ectopterygoid; f.hym, hyomandibular facet of neurocranium; op, opercle; p.f, pectoral fin; qu, quadrate; sco, scapulocoracoid; and sop, subopercle. Other abbreviations are as in Fig. 1.

  3. Fig. 3

    Stratigraphic distribution of giant †pachycormid fishes and modern planktivorous whales and chondrichthyans (icons of living groups are not shown to scale). Previous occurrences of suspension-feeding †pachycormids were confined to a short interval in the Jurassic (shown as a thin line representing †Leedsichthys, †Martillichthys, and †Asthenocormus), but occurrences reported here (shown as thick lines) expand this group’s stratigraphic range to approximately 100 million years. Convincing records of modern large-bodied planktivorous vertebrates only appear in the Paleogene, after the extinction of giant †pachycormids.