Triassic actinopterygian fishes: the recovery after the end-Permian crisis



In the last 15 years, the discovery of several new actinopterygian fish faunas from the Early and Middle Triassic of the Tethys, cast new light on the timing, speed and range of their recovery after the end-Permian crisis. In addition to several new taxa having been described, the stratigraphical and geographical record of many others have been greatly extended. In fact, most of the new fossiliferous sites are in southern China, thus at the Eastern end of the Tethys, and furthermore a few are somewhat older (Chaohu, Panxian, Luoping) than the major classical Western Tethys sites (Monte San Giorgio). Following these new finds, it is possible to have a better definition of the Triassic recovery stages. Indeed, after a quite short phase till the end of the Smithian (Olenekian, Early Triassic) in which a rather consistent fauna was present all around the Pangea coasts, a major radiation occurred in the Early–Middle Anisian after the new Middle Triassic fish fauna already appeared in the late Early Triassic, thus occuring well before what was previously supposed from the Alps localities. Furthermore, the new assemblages from southern China point to an early broader differentiation among the basal neopterygians rather than in the ‘subholosteans', the group that was then dominant in the Western Tethys since the Late Anisian. It stands that during the Norian a new basal neopterygian radiation gave rise to several new branches that dominated the remaining part of the Mesozoic.