Paläontologische Zeitschrift

, Volume 88, Issue 2, pp 167–185 | Cite as

The species of Aspidorhynchus Agassiz, 1833 (Neopterygii, Aspidorhynchiformes) from the Jurassic plattenkalks of Southern Germany

  • Adriana López-ArbarelloEmail author
  • Kerstin M. Schröder
Research Paper


The fishes of the genus Aspidorhynchus (Aspidorhynchidae) are among the most abundant predators in the palaeolagoons of the Solnhofen archipelago (Late Jurassic, southern Germany). They have been known since the end to the nineteenth century and the last revision of the genus was published more than 20 years ago. During these last two decades, numerous complete and excellently preserved specimens have been collected. The high morphological diversity shown by the new material made a new revision of these fishes necessary. This new taxonomic revision led us to revalidate the species A. ornatissimus Agassiz, 1834, which has hitherto been considered a junior synonym of the type species of the genus, A. acutirostris (Blainville, 1818), as well as to recognize high intraspecific variation in the latter species. These results helped to improve the distinction and, thus, the diagnoses of A. acutirostris, A. ornatissimus, and A. sanzenbacheri Brito and Ebert, 2009, which are the three valid species of this genus in the Solnhofen archipelago. We have been able to explain most of the intraspecific diversity of A. acutirostris by means of patterns of ontogenetic variation that encompass most of the other nominal species, thus largely reflecting early taxonomic hypotheses. Furthermore, the detailed morphological study led us to the recognition of some important anatomical structures previously unknown for aspidorhynchids: a connection between the temporal, infraorbital and supraorbital sensory canals in the frontal bone, the presence of an Y-shaped antorbital bone, and the presence of an interoperculum.


Neopterygii Aspidorhynchidae Aspidorhynchus German plattenkalk Late Jurassic Intraspecific variation 


Die Fische der Gattung Aspidorhynchus (Aspidorhynchidae) gehören zu den häufigst auftretenden Räuberfischen in den Paläolagunen des Solnhofener Archipels (Später Jura, Süddeutschland). Sie sind seit Ende des 19ten Jahrhunderts bekannt, und die letzte Revision der Gattung wurde vor mehr als zwanzig Jahren publiziert. Innerhalb dieser letzten zwei Jahrzehnte wurden zahlreiche vollständig und exzellent erhaltene Stücke gesammelt. Die ausgeprägte morphologische Diversität, die sich in dem neuen Material zeigte, machte eine Überarbeitung dieser Fische notwendig. Durch diese neue taxonomische Revision wurde die Art A. ornatissimus Agassiz, 1834, die bisher als neueres Synonym der Typusart der Gattung, A. acutirostris (Blainville, 1818) galt, revalidiert, und in letzterer Art wurde eine große intraspezifische Variation festgestellt. Diese Ergebnisse verbesserten die Unterscheidung und somit die Definition von A. acutirostris, A. ornatissimus, und A. sanzenbacheri Brito und Ebert, 2009, die drei validen Arten dieser Gattung im Solnhofener Archipel. Die meisten der intraspezifischen Variationen in A. acutirostris konnten wir durch Erscheinungsformen ontogenetischer Variation erklären, die die meisten der anderen nominellen Arten erfasst, und somit frühe taxonomische Hypothesen weitgehend widerspiegelt. Des Weiteren führte das detaillierte morphologische Studium zur Erkenntnis einiger wichtiger, anatomischer Strukturen, die bisher für Aspidorhynchidae nicht bekannt waren: eine Verbindung zwischen dem Temporal-, Infra- und Supraorbitalkanal im Frontale, das Vorhandensein eines Y-förmigen Antorbitale und das Vorhandensein eines Interoperculums.


Neopterygii Aspidorhynchidae Aspidorhynchus Deutsche Plattenkalk Obere Jura Innerartliche variation 



Special thanks to E. Sferco, O.W.M. Rauhut, H. Tischlinger, and C. Foth for enlightening discussions and for sharing valuable information. Thanks are further due to M. Apel, R. Böttcher, Z. Johanson, M. Kölbl-Ebert, O.W.M. Rauhut, M. Röper, and F. Witzmann for access to the material under their care, and R. Albersdörfer and H. Tischlinger for the allowance to study and illustrate specimens of their private collections. R. Albersdörfer, R. Brocke, M. Ebert, and H. Tischlinger provided excellent photographs of numerous specimens. We thank Jürgen Kriwet and F.J. Poyato-Ariza for their helpful revisions on an early version of this paper. Our gratitude also extends to O. Schultz and T. Nichterl for their efforts to locate the type specimens of Aspidorhynchus acutirostris in the Naturhistorisches Museum Wien. This study was financed by the German Research Foundation through the project DFG LO 1405/3-1.

Supplementary material

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Supplementary material 1 (XLSX 60 kb)


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© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Adriana López-Arbarello
    • 1
    Email author
  • Kerstin M. Schröder
    • 1
  1. 1.SNSB-Bayerische Staatssammlung für Paläontologie und GeologieMunichGermany

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