Histological structure of the cancellous bone layer in Bothriolepis canadensis (Antiarchi, Placodermi)



The Placodermi are extinct basal gnathostomes which had extensive dermal and perichondral bone, but which lacked the endochondral bone which characterizes the more derived bony fishes. Thin sections of bone from a specimen of the antiarch placoderm Bothriolepis canadensis, from the Escuminac Formation (Frasnian, Upper Devonian), Québec, Canada, reveal that part of the cancellous layer in its dermal and endoskeletal bone formed from perichondral bone trabeculae growing around cartilage spheres. The resultant structure mimics that of osteichthyan endochondral bone. The layout and dimensions of this polygonal mosaic patterning of the bone trabeculae and flattened cartilage spheres resemble those of the prismatic layers of calcified cartilage in chondrichthyans. If the lack of endoskeletal bone in chondrichthyans is a derived character, then the structure identified in B. canadensis could represent a ‘template’ for the formation of prismatic calcified cartilage in the absence of bone.