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Palaeocene Massamorichthys enters the LRT basal to derived ray-fin fish, close to mackeral

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Massamorichthys wilsoni (Murray 1996; up to 20cm; Paleocene) is a small extinct transitional taxa linking Scomberoides to more derived taxa, including Scorpis and Seriola rivoliana. It does not appear to be related to Percopsis, an untested taxon. Massamorichthys lacks a crest, a trait present in surrounding taxa. This fish is related to tuna (Thunnus) and mackeral (Scomber).

Does this mean
Massarmorichthys is chronologically correctly nested? In other words, are all the phylogenetic descendents younger than Massamorichthys? The answer is….No. Sphenocelphalus is a Late Cretaceous perch. Plectocretacicus is an early Late Cretaceous oarfish ancestor.

Massarmorichthys looks like your standard, plesiomorphic fish. It is. Don’t omit such taxa from your cladograms just because they are not weird, scary or gigantic. Here and elsewhere the plain and small taxa are important, too.

Murray AM 1996. A new Paleocene genus and species of percopsid, †Massamorichthys wilsoni (Paracanthopterygii) from Joffre Bridge, Alberta, Canada. Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology 16(4):642–652.


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