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

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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 Sep 2006


Cite this

Johanson, Z., Long, J. A., Talent, J. A., Janvier, P., & Warren, J. W. (2006). Oldest coelacanth, from the Early Devonian of Australia. Biology Letters, 2(3), 443-446. https://doi.org/10.1098/rsbl.2006.0470