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Summary

Large African barbs (genus Labeobarbus) of Lake Tana (Ethiopia) form a species flock, which includes 15 species differing in biology, ecology, and shape features, including skull proportions. Early craniogenesis was studied in three species of Lake Tana barbs: L. intermedius, a proposed ancestor of Tana species flock, L. brevicephalus, a small-sized and early-maturating barb, and L. megastoma, a large-sized, piscivorous species. The general sequence of cranial cartilage and bone appearance is the same for the barb species studied. However, they differ greatly in temporal pattern of craniogenesis. As compared to L. intermedius, bony skull development is accelerated relative to chondrocranial development in L. brevicephalus and retarded in L. megastoma. These differences in temporal pattern of craniogenesis are proposed to account for the different cranial proportions displayed by these barbs.