Phyllolepid placoderm fish remains from the Devonian Aztec Siltstone, southern Victoria Land, Antarctica
Phyllolepid placoderm remains from the Aztec Siltstone fish fauna are described as Austrophyllolepis quiltyi sp. nov., Austrophyllolepis cf. A. youngi, Placolepis tingeyi sp. nov., and phyllolepid indet. The new Antarctic species of two genera previously only known from Australia reinforce evidence from other fish taxa of close biogeographic affinity, as part of the eastern margin of Palaeozoic Gondwana. At least three genera and four species gives the Aztec Siltstone fish fauna the most diverse phyllolepid assemblage known, and probably the oldest documented so far (?late Middle Devonian). Specimens of Austrophyllolepis from the type locality at Mount Howitt, Victoria, are refigured for comparison with the Antarctic species. The order Phyllolepida is a key group for understanding Devonian vertebrate biogeography and palaeogeography, with a unique disjunct distribution in both time and space between the Southern and Northern hemispheres. Phyllolepids document one of the major dispersal events in early vertebrate history, which approximately coincided with the Frasnian–Famennian boundary mass extinction during the Late Devonian.(Received October 21 2004)
(Accepted February 25 2005)
Key Words: Austrophyllolepis; continental vertebrate dispersal; East Gondwana; Frasnian–Famennian extinction; new species; Placolepis.