The cranial endocast of the Upper Devonian dipnoan Chirodipterus australis

Struan Henderson, Thomas Challands

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

Abstract / Description of output

One of the first endocasts of a dipnoan (lungfish) to be realised was that of the Upper Devonian taxon Chirodipterus australis. This early interpretation was based on observations of the shape of the cranial cavity alone and was not based on a natural cast or 'steinkern' nor from serial sectioning. The validity of this reconstruction is therefore questionable and continued reference to and use of this interpretation in analyses of sarcopterygian cranial evolution runs the risk of propagation of error. Here we describe a new detailed anatomical description of the endocast of Chirodipterus australis and show that it exhibits a suite of characters more typical of Lower and Middle Devonian dipnoan taxa. Notably, the small utricular recess is unexpected for a taxon of this age, whereas the ventral expansion of the telencephalon is more typical of more derived taxa. The presence of such 'primitive' characters in C. australis supports its relatively basal position as demonstrated in the most recent phylogenies of Devonian Dipnoi.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationPeerJ
Publication statusPublished - 6 Jul 2018


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