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Keywords:

  • comparative ontogeny;
  • homology;
  • Tetraodontiformes;
  • caudal skeleton;
  • development

Abstract

Konstantinidis P. and Johnson, G. D. 2012. A comparative ontogenetic study of the tetraodontiform caudal complex. —Acta Zoologica (Stockholm) 93: 98–114.

Interpretation of the caudal complex of adult Tetraodontiformes has proven problematic because of the consolidation of the component elements. Here, we show that an ontogenetic approach offers considerable elucidation of the homology of the caudal complex, resulting in a new understanding of the grundplan of these fishes. The reductions of structures of the caudal complex are interpreted in a phylogenetic context. The caudal skeleton of larval triacanthodids resembles that of many adult percomorphs; however, during subsequent development epural 3 disappears, while epural 2 is reduced so that it can hardly be distinguished from the uroneural remnants. Juvenile triacanthids have an epural 2 that is lost in ontogeny, and the cartilaginous parhypural becomes integrated into the large hypural plate. In ostraciids and diodontids, the parhypural is absent throughout development. The hypural plates of adult balistids, monacanthids and tetraodontids have a conspicuous diastema between the dorsal and ventral portions. However, in early stages of the former two, the dorsal and ventral portions are continuous in cartilage proximally and remain fused in the adults. In tetraodontids, the two hypurals are separate from their initial appearance in cartilage and never fuse, raising the question of homology of the individual hypurals among the different families.