Chapter

Living Fossils

Part of the series Casebooks in Earth Sciences pp 160-165

Family Lepisosteida (Gars) as Living Fossils

  • E. O. WileyAffiliated withMuseum of Natural History and Department of Systematics and Ecology, University of Kansas
  • , Hans-Peter SchultzeAffiliated withMuseum of Natural History and Department of Systematics and Ecology, University of Kansas

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Abstract

Gars (Fig. 1). are primitive neopterygian fishes with elongate snout, plicidentine teeth, opisthocoelous vertebrae, heavy dermal bone retaining ganoid ornamentation, ganoid scales, a semiheterocercal tail, and fulcral scales on the median fins. The elongate snout is an ontogenetic product of ethmoid elongation and is correlated with many of the synapomorphies characterizing the family (Wiley 1976). Plicidentine teeth and opistocoelous vertebrae are also synapomorphies (Patterson 1973). The remaining characters are retained plesiomorphies.