Environmental Biology of Fishes

, Volume 32, Issue 1–4, pp 75–97

Latimeria chalumnae and its pedigree

  • Peter L. Forey
Article

Synopsis

Latimeria is the product of a long coelacanth lineage, usually viewed as having changed very little. In this paper a classification of better known coelacanth genera is proposed based on a cladistic computer analysis of 56 morphological characters. Biometrical data are then matched with the classification to explore the possibility of identifying subtle change. It is concluded that throughout coelacanth history there have been changes in the structure of the vertebral column involving an overall increase in the number of vertebral elements, and a consequent crowding of these elements within the abdominal region. These changes may be associated with increasing lobation of the second dorsal and anal fins. In the skull, parameters involving the intracranial joint have also changed in such a way that the anterior part of the skull has lengthened in relation to the posterior part and this may be associated with an increase in length of the basicranial muscle.

Key words

Coelacanth Evolution Phylogeny Cladistics Classification Intracranial joint Fins Vertebral column 

Abbreviations in text figures

Ang

angular

a.o.r

anterior opening of th rostral organ

Art

articular

ba.cr.m

basicranial muscle

Basi

basisphenoid

Boc

basioccipital

bpt.pr

basipterygoid process

c.p.l

cheek pit line

De

dentary

Esc

extrascapular

eth.sp

etmosphenoid

f.e

frontoethmoid

Fr

frontal

Fr.d

descending process of frontal

intr. j

intracranial joint

io.s

interorbital septum

sc

jugal sensory canal

L.e

lateral ethmoid

m.Cor

modified coronoid

Mm

memtomeckelian

m.ot.sc

medial branch of otic canal

Op

operculum

o.p.l

oral pit line

ot,occ

otico-occipital

Pa

parietal

Pa.d

descending process of parietal

Par

parasphenoid

pa.s

parietal shield

p.Cor

principal coronoid

Po

postorbital

Pop

preoperculum

p.o.r

posterior openings of the rostral organ

Pmx

premaxilla, Pre-preorbital

Pro

prootic

Pro.p

posterior process of prootic

Rart

retroarticular

Sc.o

sclerotic ossicle

So

supraorbital

Soc

supraoccipital

Sop

suboperculum

Sp

spiracular

spl

splenial

Sq

squamosal

Stt

supratemporal

Stt.com

supratemporal commissure

Stt.d

descending process of supratemporal

Par.a.w

ascending wing of parasphenoid

Te

tectal

X

level of vagus exit

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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1991

Authors and Affiliations

  • Peter L. Forey
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PalaeontologyBritish Museum (Natural History)LondonEngland

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