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Traquair's lungfish from Loanhead: dipnoan diversity and tooth plate growth in the late Mississippian

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Smithson, Timothy R 
Challands, Thomas J 
Smithson, Ketura Z 


Ramsay Heatly Traquair, the eminent Victorian Scottish palaeichthyologist and museum curator, procured an extensive collection of Palaeozoic fishes from across Scotland with the help of local miners and quarrymen. One very productive locality near Edinburgh was Loanhead. Traquair described numerous fossil fish from this Serpukhovian site, including four lungfish taxa: Ctenodus interruptus; Sagenodus quinquecostatus; Uronemus splendens; and Ctenodus angustulus. The first three are now quite well known but the fourth was only briefly described and never figured. It is based entirely on tooth plates. These are unusual both in their very small size and the arrangement of the tooth ridges. They lack the diagnostic characters of Ctenodus tooth plates and are here renamed Clackodus angustulus. A further taxon, Conchopoma sp., has recently been identified. Represented by a spade-shaped parasphenoid and denticulated jaw elements, it is the earliest known occurrence of the genus, extending its range into the Mississippian. A sixth taxon may be represented by an isolated parasphenoid bearing an anterior process, previously only seen in Devonian lungfish. The presence of up to six lungfish taxa at a single locality is unprecedented in the Carboniferous and indicates that the high level of lungfish diversity encountered in the Tournaisian of the Scottish Borders continued throughout the Mississippian adding to the growing evidence that post-Devonian lungfish evolution was not as limited as previously proposed. This may have been due to changes in tooth plate growth enabling greater variation in dentition and diet. In most Devonian taxa, tooth plate growth can be explained by comparison with that in extant forms, but analysis of Carboniferous tooth plates suggest growth was different in many taxa, possibly based on more than one pioneer tooth, allowing for novel patterns of tooth ridges and different types of teeth to develop on the same plate.



Carboniferous, Dipnoi, diversity, Scotland, Serpukhovian

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Earth and Environmental Science Transactions of The Royal Society of Edinburgh

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Royal Society Of Edinburgh.