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Projects:

  • Systematic revision of the Eocene sharks (Chondrichthyes) from Bolca Lagerstätte, Italy (FWF-Project M2368)
  • Ecological effects of competition on pycnodont fishes (Actinopterygii, Neopterygii, Pycnodontomorpha) and its possible role leading to their extinction (FWF-Project P29796-B29)
  • Evolutionary Dynamics of Eocenen Antarctic Fishes (FWF-Project P26465-B25)

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Systematic revision of the Eocene sharks (Chondrichthyes) from Bolca Lagerstätte, Italy

(FWF-Project M 2368)


Primary Investigator: Dr. Giuseppe Marramà

Goals

The goal of the project is to review the systematics of the Eocene sharks from the Italian Bolca Lagerstätte, in order to interpret their palaeobiological, palaeoecological and biogeographic significance. Special attention will be paid to the detailed anatomical comparison with their living and extinct relatives. The Eocene (50 million years) Konservat-Lagerstätte of Bolca, in Italy, is one of the most famous palaeontological sites in the world. Although more than 100,000 fish specimens were collected from this deposit during the last four century and more than 230 taxa were erected, several aspects regarding the palaeobiodiversity and the evolutionary significance of several fish groups have been neglected or underestimated. In particular, Eocene sharks of Bolca lack of a modern perspective from a systematic and taxonomic point of view. This project will be therefore a contribution to the knowledge of one of the most famous and well-studied palaeontological sites of the world, in order to improve our understanding about the palaeoecology and palaeoenvironment of Bolca, also providing an evolutionary significance for their cartilaginous fishes, after the end-Cretaceous extinction.

Team

  • Dr. Giuseppe Marramà (PI)
  • Univ.-Prof. Dr. Jürgen Kriwet


Papers

In press

Online first

2020

2019
  • Marramà, G., Carnevale, G., Naylor, G. & Kriwet, J. 2019. Mosaic of plesiomorphic and derived characters in an Eocene myliobatiform batomorph (Chondrichthyes, Elasmobranchs) from Italy defines a new, basal body plan in pelagic stingrays. Zoological Letters, 9: 14087. Link to article
  • Marramà, G., Carnevale, G., Giusberti, L., Naylor, G. & Kriwet, J. 2019. A bizarre Eocene dasyatoid batomorph (Elasmobranchii, Myliobatiformes) from the Bolca Lagerstätte (Italy) reveals a new, extinct body plan for stingrays. Scientific Reports, 9:14087. Link to article
  • Fanti, F., Mazzuferi, G. & Marramà, G. 2019. Egg preservation in an Eocene stingray (Myliobatiformes, Dasyatidae) from Italy. Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology, 39: e1578967 (5 pages). Link to article
  • Marramà, G., Carnevale, G., Naylor, G. & Kriwet, J. 2019. Mosaic of plesiomorphic and derived characters in an Eocene myliobatiform batomorph (Chondrichthyes, Elasmobranchs) from Italy defines a new, basal body plan in pelagic stingrays. Zoological Letters. Link to article
  • Marramà, G., Schultz, O. & Kriwet, J. 2019. A new Miocene skate from Central Paratethys (Upper Austria): The first unambiguous skeletal record for the Rajiformes (Chondrichthyes: Batomorphii). Journal of Systematic Palaeontology, 17: 937-960. Link to article
  • Robin, N., Marramà, G., Vonk, R., Kriwet, J. & Carnevale, G. 2019. Eocene isopods on electric rays: tracking ancient biological interactions from a complex fossil record. Palaeontology, 62: 287-303. Link to article
  • Marramà, G., Engelbrecht, A., Carnevale, G. & Kriwet, J. 2019. Eocene sand tiger sharks (Lamniformes, Odontaspididae) from the Bolca Konservat-Lagerstätte, Italy: Palaeobiology, palaeobiogeography and evolutionary significance. Historical Biology, 31: 101-115. Link to article
  • Marramà, G., Carnevale, G., Naylor, G. & Kriwet, J. 2019. Reappraisal of the Eocene whiptail stingrays of the Bolca Lagerstätte (Italy) and the possible Tethyan origin of neotrygonines (Myliobatiformes: Dasyatidae). Zoologica Scripta, 48: 168-184.. Link to article
2018
  • Marramà, G., Klug, S., De Vos, J. & Kriwet, J. 2018. Anatomy, relationships and palaeobiogeographic implications of the first Neogene holomorphic stingray (Myliobatiformes, Dasyatidae) from the early Miocene of Sulawesi, Indonesia, SE Asia. Zoological Journal of the Linnenan Society, 184: 1142-1168. Link to article
  • Marramà, G., Claeson, K.M,, Carnevale, G. & Kriwet, J. 2018. Revision of Eocene electric rays (Torpediniformes, Batomorphii) from the Bolca Konservat-Lagerstätte, Italy, reveals the first fossil embryo in situ in batoids and provides new insights into the origin of trophic novelties in coral reef fishes. Journal of Systematic Palaeontology, 16: 1189-1219. Link to article
  • Marramà, G., Carnevale, G., Engelbrecht, A., Claeson, K.M., Zorzin, R., Fornasiero, M. & Kriwet, J. 2018. A synoptic review of the Eocene (Ypresian) cartilaginous fishes (Chondrichthyes: Holocephali, Elasmobranchii) of the Bolca Konservat-Lagerstätte, Italy. PalZ, 92: 283-313. Link to article
  • Marramà, G., Carnevale, G. & Kriwet, J. 2018. New observations on the anatomy and paleobiology of the Eocene requiem shark †Eogaleus bolcensis (Carcharhiniformes, Carcharhinidae) from Bolca Lagerstätte, Italy. Comptes rendus Palevol, 17: 443-459. Link to article
  • Marramà, G., Engelbrecht, A., Mörs, T., Reguero, M. & Kriwet, J. 2018. The southernmost occurrence of Brachycarcharias (Lamniformes, Odontaspididae) from the Eocene of Antarctica provides new information about the paleobiogeography and paleobiology of paleogene sand tiger sharks. Rivista Italiana di Paleontologia e Stratigrafia (Research In Paleontology and Stratigraphy) 124: 283-298. Link to article
2017
  • Marramà, G. & Kriwet, J. 2017. Principal component and discriminant analyses as powerful tools to support taxonomic identification and their use for functional and phylogenetic signal detection of isolated fossil shark teeth. PLoS ONE 12: e0188806 (22 pages). Link to article

Conference abstracts

2019
  • Marramà, G., Carnevale, G., Giusberti, L., Naylor, G.J.P. & Kriwet, J. 2019. A new Eocene batoid fish (Elasmobranchii, Myliobatiformes) from Monte Bolca (Italy) reveals an extinct body plan for stingrays. In: Nützel, A., Reichenbacher, B. & Krings, M. (eds): Paleo & Life - Abstracts of the 90th Annual Meeting of the Paläontologische Gesellschaft, Munich: 94; SNSB-BSPG, München.
  • Marramà, G., Carnevale, G., Naylor, G.J.P. & Kriwet, J. 2019. An Eocene myliobatiform (Chondrichthyes, Elasmobranchii) from Monte Bolca (Italy) defines a new, basal body plan for pelagic stingrays. Journal of Morphology, Supplement 280 (International Congress of Vertebrate Morphology (ICVM) Abstract Issue): 174.

2018
  • Varese, M., Marramà, G., Kriwet, J., Carnevale, G. & Giusberti, L. 2018. Redescription of "Rhinobatus" dezigni, an Eocene guitarfish from the Bolca Konservat-Lagerstatte, Italy. XVIII edizione delle Giornate di Paleontologia, 6-8 Giugno 2018, Abstract volume: 27; Trento e Predazzo, Italy.
  • Marramà, G., Schultz, O. & Kriwet, J.. 2018. The first unambiguous skeletal record for the skates (Batomorphii, Rajiformes) from the early Miocene of Upper Austria. 5th International Palaeontological Congress, Abstract book: 1000; Paris, France.
  • Robin, N., Marramà, G., Vonk, R., Kriwet, J. & Carnevale, G. 2018. Eocene isopods on electric rays: tracking ancient biological interactions in a complex fossil record. 5th International Palaeontological Congress, Abstract book: 469; Paris, France.
2017
  • Marramà, G., Claeson, K.M., Carnevale, G. & Kriwet, J. 2017. Eocene electric rays (Torpediniformes, Batomorphii) from the Monte Postale Site, Bolca Lagerstätte, Italy. XVII edizione delle Giornate di Paleontologia, 24-26 maggio 2017 - Volume dei Riassunti: 53.

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Ecological effects of competition on pycnodont fishes (Actinopterygii, Neopterygii, Pycnodontomorpha) and its possible role leading to their extinction

(FWF-Project P 29796-B29)


Primary Investigator: Univ.-Prof. Dr. Jürgen Kriwet


Background

Pycnodont fishes (Pycnodontomorpha) are a monophyletic and ecologically successful clade of extinct ray finned fishes with a fossil record spanning 175 million years from the Late Triassic to middle Eocene (Tintori 1981; Poyato-Ariza & Wenz 2002; Kriwet & Schmitz 2005). They are most commonly associated with shallow water marine habitats but are also found in association with freshwater and estuarine deposits (Longbottom 1984; Poyato-Ariza et al. 1998). A deep, rounded, and laterally compressed body, a frontal flexure of the skull in profile view, a more or less prognathous snout, and elongated dorsal and anal fins, forming together with the caudal fin an effective rudder characterize pycnodonts (Fig. 1). In their body shape they superficially resemble extant coral reef fishes like butterflyfishes (Chaetodontidae), doctorfishes (Acanthuridae), and triggerfishes (Balistidae). Distinctive characteristics of pycnodonts are their molariform teeth, which generally are arranged in well-defined rows on the unpaired vomer (upper jaw) and paired prearticulars (lower jaws) (Fig. 2). This dentition represents an adaptation to shelled prey. Their diversity is strikingly high, with over >600 nominal species in >45 genera of which many taxa are based on teeth and dentitions only (Kriwet, 2001a; 2005). The palaeobiogeography of these fishes suggests they originated in the Tethys Sea initially and then spread worldwide (Kriwet 2008; Martín-Abad & Poyato-Ariza 2013).
Traditionally considered an order, Pycnodontiformes (Poyato-Ariza & Wenz 2002), they are now accepted to represent a superorder, Pycnodontomorpha, which was considered as a possible sister group candidate to Teleostei (Nursall 2010). However, a more recent analysis by Poyato-Ariza (2015) identified pycnodonts to be the sister group to Halecostomi (Holostei + Teleosteomorpha), which would make pycnodonts the most basal group among neopterygian fishes. Pycnodontomorpha comprises the orders Gyrodontiformes containing the families Gyrodontidae and Mesturidae, and Pycnodontiformes, including all remaining taxa (Nursall 2010). In this application whenever the term pycnodont is used, it refers to the total group Pycnodontomorpha.
The fact that pycnodonts weathered both the Late Triassic/Early Jurassic and the K/Pg extinction events indicates that these fishes had a particularly successful evolutionary strategy. Indeed, their increasing raw species diversity through the Mesozoic is quite plainly seen in the fossil record (Late Triassic: 4; Early Jurassic: 2; Middle Jurassic: 16; Late Jurassic: 77; Early Cretaceous: 73; Late Cretaceous: 101 [only named and currently as valid considered species listed]). The increase in raw species numbers in the Late Cretaceous is mirrored in the great increase in morphological disparity (Marramà et al. 2016a). The increase in species diversity from the Middle Jurassic onwards indicates the first diversification event in the history of pycnodonts.
A steep drop in taxon number occurred from the Late Cretaceous to Palaeocene, which might indicate that the K/P boundary event also affected pycnodont fishes. The disappearance of most major lineages well before the K/P boundary, which was used by Kriwet (2001a) to reject an extinction event at this boundary might be related to the so-called Signor-Lipps effect. Most pycnodonts known from the Palaeocene also occur in the Late Cretaceous with the exception of members of Pycnodus, which seemingly originated in the Palaeogene. This pycnodont is the most derived member of Pycnodontomorpha and the last representative of this formerly diverse group in the Eocene before it vanished, too.
A popular hypothesis regarding the extinction of pycnodonts is the observation that many modern teleost groups common in coral reefs today arose at the same time that pycnodonts were beginning to decline (Bellwood 1996; 2003). Were the pycnodonts simply outcompeted by better-adapted teleosts or could there have been other factors in their extinction?
During the Mesozoic, pycnodonts also faced competition from shallow water adapted, shell crushing ginglymodian fishes. In this case, however, the ginglymodian fishes (with the exception of Lepisosteidae) perished at the K/Pg boundary. Are there correlated evolutionary trajectories in both groups that enabled them to survive?
The project applied for here tends to answer two major questions: 1) Are competition patterns within pycnodonts and between pycnodonts, ginglymodians and ecologically similar fishes detectable, and could it explain diversity and diversification patterns within pycnodonts and 2) did the rise of teleosts, particularly Acanthomorpha, lead to the extinction of the pycnodonts in the Eocene? Thus, this project focuses on biotic rather than abiotic effects influencing diversity patterns.

Goals

The major goals of this project are to gain deeper insights and a better understanding of the mechanisms that determine the evolutionary history, success, and final extinction of a highly diverse clade of fishes (Pycnodontomorpha). It was demonstrated that pycnodont fishes were very successful, highly diversified and evidently well adapted to the habitats they occupied. It is hypothesized that they were an important and major element of marine as well as continental influenced fish faunas (e.g., Kriwet 2001a). Nevertheless, the reasons for (1) their seemingly rapid diversification in the Early Mesozoic, (2) their subsequent success and thus their possible superiority over other fish groups inhabiting same environments (e.g., Ginglymodi), (3) their habitat use (= facies depending distribution) and possible size aggregations due to ontogenetic shifts, (4) diversity fluctuations in, i.e., relation to abiotic crises (e.g., Cenomanian/Turonian and K/P boundary events, environmental changes) or biotic factors (e.g., competition), and (5) the events triggering their final disappearance more or less simultaneously with the appearance and evolution of teleostean groups, which are considered to be important elements of modern coral-fish assemblages are ambiguous or have not been addressed with rigorous analytical methods up to now. The proposed project intends to find answers to these still not fully understood and varied aspects, which (in addition with already known traits such as feeding kinematics) will help understanding the evolutionary history of this important group and thus has the potential to identify universal evolutionary processes.

Team

  • Univ.-Prof. Dr. Jürgen Kriwet (PI) Read more
  • John J. Cawley, MSc (Predoctoral Researcher)
  • Fabrizio De Rossi (Student Assistant)

Publications

2019
  • Cawley, J.J. & Kriwet, J. 2019. A new pycnodontid fish Flagellipinna rhomboides (Neopterygii, Pycnodontiformes) from the Upper Cretaceous (Cenomanian) of Lebanon, with notes on juvenile form and ecology. Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology, 39: e1614012 (16 pages). Link to article
  • Gouiric-Cavalli, S., Remírez, M., Kriwet, J. 2019. New pycnodontiform fishes (Actinopterygii, Neopterygii) from the Early Cretaceous of the Argentinian Patagonia. Cretaceous Research, 94:45-58. Link to article
2018
  • Cawley, J.J., Marramà, G., Carnevale, G. & Kriwet, J. 2018. A quantitative approach to determine the taxonomic identity and ontogeny of the pycnodontiform fish Pycnodus (Neopterygii, Actinopterygii) from the Eocene of Bolca Lagerstätte, Italy. PeerJ, 6:e4809 (30 pages). Link to article
2017
  • Cawley, J.J. & Kriwet, J. 2017. A new pycnodont fish, Scalacurvichthys naishii, gen. et sp. nov., from the Late Cretaceous of the Middle East. Journal of Systematic Palaeontology, 16: 659-673. Link to article
  • Cawley, J.J. & Kriwet, J. 2017. Possible sexual dimorphism in Pankowskichthys (Neopterygii, Pycnodontiformes) from the Cenomanian, Haqel, Lebanon. Research & Knowledge 3: 33-35. Link to article
  • Cawley, J.J. & Kriwet, J. 2017. New information about Late Cretaceous pycnodont fishes (Actinopterygii, Pycnodontiformes) from the Near East. Research & Knowledge 3: 47-48. Link to article
  • Stumpf, S., Ansorge, J., Pfaff, C. & Kriwet, J. 2017. Early Jurassic diversification of pycnodontiform fishes (Actinopterygii, Neopterygii) after the end-Triassic extinction event: Evidence from a new genus and species, Grimmenodon aureum. Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology 37(4): e1344679 (14 pages). Link to article

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Evolutionary Dynamics of Eocene Antarctic Fishes

(FWF-Project P26465-B25)


Primary Investigator: Univ.-Prof. Dr. Jürgen Kriwet

Background

The Palaeogene was one of the most important time intervals in global climatic developments characterized, inter alia, by a late Eocene transition from the greenhouse world to icehouse conditions (ca. 49-34 Ma). The final cooling phase across the Eocene-Oligocene (E-O) boundary (ca. 33.7 Ma) resulted in the thermal isolation of Antarctica and the establishment of large Antarctic ice sheets. These climatic changes, which persisted into the earliest Oligocene resulted in major biotic turnovers in marine and terrestrial floras and faunas. Today’s Southern Ocean, which is delimited by the circum-Antarctic current (Antarctic Convergence) and the Antarctic continent, which is located within it are amongst the most remote and coldest places in the world and are both a key element in any model of Earth processes and climatic changes as well as a site of unique evolutionary traits related to the abiotic characters. The extant fish fauna within the Antarctic Convergence is striking in its low taxonomic diversity and high number of endemic taxa. The chondrichthyan fauna is extremely impoverished compared to the modern teleost fauna and this situation was similar in the Eocene.
The project aims at documenting and analysing the biotic effects of both short-term and long-term climate and palaeogeographic changes in Antarctica focusing on the taxonomic composition and diversity dynamics of Eocene Antarctic holocephalan and elasmobranchian fishes, which will serve as model organisms for evolutionary patterns in high-latitudes. Analysing originations, extinctions, diversity and diversification patterns and the palaeoecology of chondrichthyans in combination with extrinsic factors, which might influence evolutionary processes (e.g., climatic changes, palaeogeographic constellations) throughout the Eocene until the thermal and geographic isolation of Antarctica will not only provide deeper insights into adaptive and evolutionary patterns of high-latitude cartilaginous fishes but also into the development and probably the origin of the conspicuous modern-day Antarctic fish fauna with no resident holocephalans and sharks. Previous hypotheses stating, for instance, that there is a continuous diversity increase until the middle Eocene and that the absence of chondrichthyans in the uppermost Eocene of Antarctica is the result of the onset of the thermal isolation of the Antarctic continent will be tested with rigorous methodological approaches.

Goals

The ultimate goal is to present a comprehensive study of cartilaginous fish assemblages from the Eocene of Antarctica including revisions of previously published records. Integrated goals of this project are to (1) establish the taxonomic / systematic composition and stratigraphic distribution of cartilaginous fishes for each Eocene stratigraphic unit (here TELMs) of Antarctica, (2) establish the quality of their fossil record, (3) analyse the faunal relationships (Beta Diversity) of Eocene Antarctic chondrichthyan compositions, (4) study the underlying evolutionary dynamics such as origination, diversification, diversity fluctuation and extinction patterns of fishes in high latitudes during the Eocene and (5) reconstruct ecological patterns of Eocene Antarctic chondrichthyans.

Team

  • Univ.-Prof. Dr. Jürgen Kriwet (PI) Read more
  • Dr. Andrea Engelbrecht (Predoctoral Researcher)

Collaborations:



Publications

2019
  • Engelbrecht, A., Mörs, T., Reguero, M. & Kriwet, J. 2019. Skates and Rays (Elasmobranchii, Batomorphii) from the Eocene La Meseta Formation, Seymour Island, Antarctica. Historical Biology, 31: 1028-1044. Link to article
2018
  • Marramà, G., Engelbrecht, A., Mörs, T., Reguero, M. & Kriwet, J. 2018. The southernmost occurrence of Brachycarcharias (Lamniformes, Odontaspididae) from the Eocene of Antarctica provides new information about the paleobiogeography and paleobiology of paleogene sand tiger sharks. Rivista Italiana di Paleontologia e Stratigrafia (Research In Paleontology and Stratigraphy) 124: 283-298. Link to article
2017
  • Engelbrecht, A., Mörs, T., Reguero, M. & Kriwet, J. 2017. New carcharhiniform sharks (Chondrichthyes, Elasmobranchii) from the early to middle Eocene, of Seymour Island, Antarctic Peninsula. Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology, 37: e1371724 (25 pages). Link to article
  • Engelbrecht, A., Mörs, T., Reguero, M. & Kriwet, J. 2017. A new sawshark, Pristiophorus laevis, from the Eocene of Antarctica with comments on Pristiophorus lanceolatus. Historical Biology 29: 841-853 Link to article
  • Engelbrecht, A., Mörs, T., Reguero, M. & Kriwet, J. 2017. Eocene squalomorph sharks (Chondrichthyes, Elasmobranchii) from Antarctica. The Journal of South American Earth Sciences.Historical Biology 78: 175-189. Link to article
  • Schwarzhans, W., Mörs, T., Engelbrecht, A., Reguero, M. & Kriwet, J. 2017. Before the freeze: Otoliths from the Eocene of Seymour Island, Antarctica, reveal dominance of gadiform fishes (Teleostei). Journal of Systematic Palaeontology 15(2): 147-170. Link to article
  • Engelbrecht, A., Mörs, T., Reguero, M. & Kriwet, J. 2017. Revision of Eocene Antarctic carpet sharks (Elasmobranchii, Orectolobiformes) from Seymour Island, Antarctic Peninsula. Journal of Systematic Palaeontology 15: 969-990.Link to article
2016
  • Kriwet, J., Engelbrecht, A., Mörs, T., Reguero, M. & Pfaff, C. 2016. Ultimate Eocene (Priabonian) chondrichthyans (Holocephali, Elasmobranchii) of Antarctica. Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology 36: e1160911 (19 pages).

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