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Early Silurian chondrichthyans from the Tarim Basin (Xinjiang, China)

Cite this dataset

Andreev, Plamen et al. (2020). Early Silurian chondrichthyans from the Tarim Basin (Xinjiang, China) [Dataset]. Dryad.


The Sinacanthida ordo nov. and Mongolepidida are spine- and scale-based taxa whose remains encompass some of the earliest reported fossils of chondrichthyan fish. Investigation of fragmentary material from the Early Silurian Tataertag and Ymogantau Formations of the Tarim Basin (Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, China) has revealed a diverse mongolepidid and sinacanthid fauna dominated by mongolepids and sinacanthids in association with abundant dermoskeletal elements of the endemic ‘armoured’ agnathans known as galeaspids.

Micro-computed tomography, scanning electron microscopy and histological sections were used to identify seven mongolepid genera (including Tielikewatielepis sinensis gen. et sp. nov., Xiaohaizilepis liui gen. et sp. nov. and Taklamakanolepis asiaticus gen. et sp. nov.) together with a new chondrichthyan (Yuanolepis bachunensis gen. et sp. nov.) with scale crowns consisting of a mongolepid-type atubular dentine (lamellin). Unlike the more elaborate crown architecture of mongolepids, Yuanolepis gen. nov. exhibits a single row of crown elements consistent with the condition reported in stem chondrichthyans from the Lower Devonian (e.g. in Seretolepis, Parexus). The results corroborate previous work by recognising lamellin as the main component of sinacanthid spines and point to corresponding developmental patterns shared across the dermal skeleton of taxa with lamellin and more derived chondrichthyans (e.g. Doliodus, Kathemacanthus, Seretolepis and Parexus).

The Tarim mongolepid fauna is inclusive of coeval taxa from the South China Block and accounts for over two-thirds of the species currently attributed to Mongolepidida. This demonstrates considerable overlap between the Tarim and South China components of the Lower Silurian Zhangjiajie Vertebrate Fauna.