The Early Devonian ischnacanthiform acanthodian Ischnacanthus gracilis (Egerton, 1861) from the Midland Valley of Scotland

Carole J Burrow, Michael Newman, Jan Den Blaauwen, Roger Jones, Robert Davidson


Ischnacanthus gracilis (Egerton, 1861), the only ischnacanthiform acanthodian from the Lochkovian Lower Old Red Sandstone of Scotland, is known from hundreds of specimens in institutional collections worldwide. Despite this relative abundance, morphology and histology of its skeletal elements have rarely been investigated. Surface details of spines, dental elements, and scales are often not visible in specimens because they are usually split through the middle. We have examined a broad size range of fish, from 35 mm to 250 mm long. Several intact (not split) specimens have been collected in recent years and acid-prepared to show fine details of the dermal and dental elements. We have also used scanning electron microscopy of scales, jaws and dental elements,  denticles and fin spines, and serial thin sectioning of articulated specimens, to document their structure. Some of our notable observations include: identification of ventral lateral lines, double-layered subtessellate calcified cartilage forming the jaws, and the probable occurrence of extraoral tricuspid denticles on the jaws of most fish. Examination of the size range, body proportions and dentition of institutional specimens gives no support for recognising more than one species in the Midland Valley localities. 


Acanthodii; Ischnacanthus; Lochkovian; Palaeohistology; Dentition

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