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Keywords:

  • elasmobranch;
  • jaw suspension;
  • postorbital articulation;
  • amphistylic

Abstract

Although modern hexanchiforms are the only extant elasmobranchs with a postorbital articulation, according to most morphological and molecular cladistic analyses they are not basal, suggesting that Huxley (1876 Proc Zool Soc 1876;24–59) correctly identified this articulation as “an altogether secondary connection.” A postorbital articulation is present in many Paleozoic sharks, but differs from that found in hexanchiforms in its morphology, topographic position on the braincase, and inferred ontogenetic origins. Furthermore, a postorbital articulation is absent in hybodonts (the putative extinct sister group to neoselachians). It is proposed that the term amphistylic should be restricted to the modern hexanchiform condition, where the articular facet is located on the primary postorbital process. An identical articulation probably existed in some extinct galeomorphs (e.g., †Synechodus dubrisiensis, †Paraorthacodus), but is not widespread within elasmobranchs generally. The term archaeostylic (“ancient pillar”) is proposed here for the suspensorial arrangement in Paleozic sharks with a postorbital articulation on the ventrolateral part of the lateral commissure. Such an articulation is not known in other gnathostomes and may represent a basal chondrichthyan synapomophy (especially if †Pucapampella is a stem chondrichthyan), suggesting that the autodiastylic pattern is not primitive for chondrichthyans and that holocephalans have secondarily lost a postorbital articulation. The amphistylic condition may have arisen from the archaeostylic, or it could have been acquired independently within neoselachians, but in either case it is most parsimoniously viewed as apomorphic. J. Morphol., 2008. © 2008 Wiley-Liss, Inc.