[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index][Subject Index][Author Index]

Megamastax, largest vertebrate predator from Silurian (free pdf)

Ben Creisler

A new paper of interest in open access:

Brian Choo, Min Zhu, Wenjin Zhao, Liaotao Jia & You'an Zhu
The largest Silurian vertebrate and its palaeoecological implications.
Scientific Reports 4, Article number: 5242

An apparent absence of Silurian fishes more than half-a-metre in
length has been viewed as evidence that gnathostomes were restricted
in size and diversity prior to the Devonian. Here we describe the
largest pre-Devonian vertebrate (Megamastax amblyodus gen. et sp.
nov.), a predatory marine osteichthyan from the Silurian Kuanti
Formation (late Ludlow, ~423 million years ago) of Yunnan, China, with
an estimated length of about 1 meter. The unusual dentition of the new
form suggests a durophagous diet which, combined with its large size,
indicates a considerable degree of trophic specialisation among early
osteichthyans. The lack of large Silurian vertebrates has recently
been used as constraint in palaeoatmospheric modelling, with purported
lower oxygen levels imposing a physiological size limit. Regardless of
the exact causal relationship between oxygen availability and
evolutionary success, this finding refutes the assumption that
pre-Emsian vertebrates were restricted to small body sizes.

 News stories: