Reconstruction of Onychodus eriensis hunting placoderms
Congratulations to Ph.D. student Arjan Mann, who is the first listed author on a recent publication in the Canadian Journal of Earth Sciences. This paper describes the first Devonian-aged vertebrate remains from southwestern Ontario, which had not been described prior to this study. The specimen in question was collected from Mill Point, Pelee Island, Ontario.
In this paper, they describe a new species of primitive sarcopterygian, or lobe-finned fish. Onychodus eriensis takes the latter part of its name from the great Lake Erie, where Pelee Island is located. This fish was a large apex predator in the ecosystem it inhabited. The specimen consists of a well-preserved right mandible with approximately 50 teeth, some of which are broken. The dentary is 28 cm long, which is fairly large in comparison to other early sarcopterygians. The new taxon differs from the closely related Onychodus sigmoides, found in Ohio and upstate New York, by a strongly curved jaw and an expansion at the anterior end.
Other remains of lobe-finned fish and placoderms can be found on Pelee Island alongside the new taxon. Further analysis of these and other fossil remains will help increase our knowledge of the Devonian-aged fossil assemblages present in southwestern Ontario.