The scapulocoracoid of the Queensland lungfish Neoceratodus forsteri (Dipnoi Sarcopterygii): morphology, development and evolutionary implications for bony fishes (Osteichthyes)

Zerina Johanson*, Jean M. P. Joss, Daniel Wood

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


Among bony fishes, the ontogenetic sequence by which the actinopterygian scapulocoracoid develops has been well described, but that of the sarcopterygian scapulocoracoid is poorly known, as the majority of taxa are only known from fossils. To rectify this, the cartilaginous scapulocoracoid of the extant lungfish Neoceratodus forsteri is examined. In initial stages of its development, the scapulocoracoid of Neoceratodus has a simple rounded shape, and supports the glenoid fossa. It appears nearly contemporaneously with the proximal endochondral element (humerus) of the pectoral fin. Pectoral fin elements develop by segmentation from a continuous field of cartilaginous precursor cells extending distally from the glenoid region of the scapulocoracoid. Subsequent scapulocoracoid development produces a ventromedial process, which is not associated with this field of precursor cells. A dorsal process also develops outside this field. Thus, the scapulocoracoid of Neoceratodus may consist of at least two developmentally distinct regions; (1) the ventromedial being homologous with the coracoid of actinopterygians, tetrapods and other jawed vertebrates and (2) a smaller dorsal process, homologous to the scapular region. The two, together with the glenoid region, give an overall triangular shape. The scapulocoracoids of fossil lungfish and other sarcopterygian fishes are also triangular and are composed of scapular and coracoid regions, rather than the 'buttresses' associated with scapulocoracoids of the Actinopterygii and Tetrapoda.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)93-109
Number of pages17
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 27 Jul 2004


  • Development
  • Dipnoi
  • Neoceratodus
  • Sarcopterygii
  • Scapulocoracoid


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