Filling the gap: a fossil frogfish, genus Antennarius (Teleostei, Lophiiformes, Antennariidae), from the Miocene of Algeria


Giorgio Carnevale, CNR – Istituto di Geoscienze e Georisorse, and Dipartimento di Scienze della Terra, Universita di Pisa, via S. Maria, 53, I-56126 Pisa, Italy.


A new species of frogfish, Antennarius monodi sp. nov., is described from the Upper Miocene (Messinian) of Raz-el-Aïn, near Oran, north-east Algeria. The type and only specimen of this taxon is the first articulated skeleton belonging to the family Antennariidae ever recorded as a fossil. The morphological and meristic characters observed support the inclusion of this species in the Antennarius ocellatus group, where it shares several features with the extant Antennarius senegalensis. Morphological features, sedimentary characters and faunal association concur to suggest that A. monodi sp. nov. possibly was a tropical, continental species that lived on muddy bottoms and turbid waters at depths less than 90–100 m. From a biogeographic point of view, the presence of an antennariid closely related to A. senegalensis in the Late Miocene of the Mediterranean suggests that this area had strong biotic relationships with the eastern tropical Atlantic at that time. The integrative analysis of phylogenetic interrelationships and fossil record of the entire order Lophiiformes reveals that all the lophiiform lineages were already in existence in the Eocene. Moreover, the existence of a derived species of the genus Antennarius in the Late Miocene at last fills a large gap that exists in the fossil record of the Teleostei, suggesting that the modern antennariid body plan originated well before that period.