Bavarichthys: a Late Jurassic Solnhofen anchovy

Updated January 16, 2021
with revised scores that now nest Xiphias, the swordfish, between Bavarichthys and Anguilla, the European eel. This is a novel hypothesis of interrelationships supported by skull shape and details, lack of ribs (in eels and swordfish) and a lack of pelvic fins in these two taxa. Traditionally these three taxa nest with other taxa. This clade is close to the anchovy clade in the LRT.

Arratia and Tischlinger 2010
bring us several fossils of Bavarichthys incognitus from the Late Jurassic Solnhofen Formation of Germany. In the large reptile tree (LRT, 1706+ taxa; subset Fig. x) it nests with Elops, the extant and much larger anchovy (Fig. 2), and for good reason. They are almost identical.

Figure 1. Bavarichthys is a big head/ short body anchovy from the Late Jurassic. Now it is ancestral to European eels.

Figure 1. Bavarichthys is a big head/ short body anchovy from the Late Jurassic. Now it is ancestral to European eels.

The skull of one Bavarichthys
(Fig. 1) is largely intact, lacking a prefrontal + upper lacrimal based on phylogenetic bracketing with Elops (Fig. 2). The maxilla is slightly displaced.

Figure 2. Elops is the extant anchovy. Compare to Bavaricthys in figure 1.

Figure 2. Elops is the extant anchovy. Compare to Bavaricthys in figure 1.

Bavarichthys incognitus (Arratia and Tischlinger 2020; Late Jurassic) was originally considered a member of the “Crossognathiforms with a large head about 30% in standard length and a characteristically elongate snout, more than 25% in head length.

Figure 2. Another specimen of Pholidophorus? radians

Figure 2. Another specimen of Pholidophorus? radians

?Pholidophorus radians is a coeval Late Jurassic relative
(Fig. 3) with a more tuna-like shape.

Figure x. Subset of the LRT, focusing on fish for July 2020.

Figure x. Subset of the LRT, focusing on fish for July 2020.

The phylogenetic ‘distance’ between any two fish taxa
is getting smaller and smaller as more taxa are added.


References
Arratia G and Tischlinger H 2010. The first record of Late Jurassic crossognathiform fishes from Europe and their phylogenetic importance for teleostean phylogeny. Mitteilungen aus dem Museum für Naturkunde in Berlin. Fossil Record; Berlin 13(2): 317–341.

wiki/Elops_saurus

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