Oldest coelacanth, from the Early Devonian of Australia

Zerina Johanson*, John A. Long, John A. Talent, Philippe Janvier, James W. Warren

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    45 Citations (Scopus)


    Coelacanths are well-known sarcopterygian (lobe-finned) fishes, which together with lung-fishes are the closest extant relatives of land vertebrates (tetrapods). Coelacanths have both living representatives and a rich fossil record, but lack fossils older than the late Middle Devonian (385-390 Myr ago), conflicting with current phylogenies implying coelacanths diverged from other sarcopterygians in the earliest Devonian (410-415 Myr ago). Here, we report the discovery of a new coelacanth from the Early Devonian of Australia (407-409 Myr ago), which fills in the approximately 20 Myr 'ghost range' between previous coelacanth records and the predicted origin of the group. This taxon is based on a single lower jaw bone, the dentary, which is deep and short in form and possesses a dentary sensory pore, otherwise seen in Carboniferous and younger taxa.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)443-446
    Number of pages4
    JournalBiology Letters
    Issue number3
    Publication statusPublished - 22 Sept 2006


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