• Sarcopterygii;
  • Late Silurian;
  • China;
  • phylogeny

The study of basal sarcopterygians is crucial to an understanding of the relationships and interrelationships of sarcopterygians, including their relationship to tetrapods. The new material from Qujing, Yunnan, southwestern China, represents the oldest known sarcopterygian fish and extends the record of sarcopterygians to the Late Silurian, or about 410 Ma. The new form is close to Youngolepis and Powichthys at the base of the Crossopterygii. Similarities among the lower jaws of onychodonts, porolepiforms, Youngolepis, Powichthys and the new form support a position of onychodonts within the Crossopterygii. Four characters in the character matrix of Cloutier & Ahlberg (1996, in Stiassny et al: Interrelationships of Fishes, Academic Press) are reviewed, and sarcopterygian interrelationships are studied on the basis of their data with minor modifications. The new scheme of sarcopterygian interrelationships differs markedly from Cloutier & Ahlberg's scheme. Neither actinistians nor onychodonts are situated at the base of Sarcopterygii, but within the Crossopterygii. Youngolepis and Powichthys are at the base of the Crossopterygii, instead of being the sister group of dipnoans plus Diabolepis.