reconstruction of Osteolepis Osteolepis, a Middle Devonian relative of megalichthyidids ©

Red Hill megalichthyidid
(lobe-fin fish)

Several specimens of unidentified megalichthyidids were recovered from the shallow channel margin at Red Hill. It's not yet clear whether they belong to a single species or to several species, but they appear to be new to science. A nearly full-bodied specimen measures about 70 cm, but skull fragments from a much larger specimen suggest a size of nearly 2 m. There are also numerous scales ranging widely in size, suggesting that a range of age classes were present.

fossilDermal skull elements (left) and scales (right) of the unidentified megaliichthyidid.
Scales are about 2 cm. Photo courtesy of Ted Daeschler, ANS.

Megalichthyidids were a group of osteolepidid lobe-fins with flat, rounded skulls. They survived until the Middle Permian, well after most other osteolepidids died out. Members of this family have been recovered from coal swamps and lakes in Australia, Europe and North America.

Other lobefins, including an unidentified lungfish, Holoptychius sp., a juvenile rhizodont (c.f., Sauripterus), and Hyneria lindae were also found at Red Hill. You can also learn more about lobe-fin fishes.

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Long, J.A. 1995. The Rise of Fishes: 500 Million Years of Evolution. Baltimore and London: John Hopkins Univ. Press.
Moy-Thomas, J. A. and R. S. Miles, 1971. Paleozoic Fishes. London: Chapman and Hall.
Image Credits:
The reconstruction of Osteolepis is copyrighted © 2002, Dennis C. Murphy. (See Terms of Use.) It's based on Moy-Thomas and Miles (1971).

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