Antarctic Science

Papers—Earth Sciences and Glaciology

An Eocene wrasse (Perciformes; Labridae) from Seymour Island

Douglas J. Long a1
a1 Department of Integrative Biology and the Museum of Paleontology, University of California, Berkeley, CA, 94720, USA

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A nearly complete lower pharyngeal tooth-plate from a large (over 60 cm long) fossil wrasse (Perciformes: Labridae) was recently recovered from the middle to late Eocene La Meseta Formation on Seymour Island, Antarctic Peninsula. This find increases the number of teleosts from the Eocene of Antarctica to five taxa, and further illustrates the diversity of the ichthyofauna in the Eocene Weddellian Sea prior to wide-scale climatic change in the Southern Ocean. The fossil wrasse represents the first occurrence of this family in Antarctica, and is one of the oldest fossils of this family from the Southern Hemisphere. Wrasses are not found in Antarctic waters today, and probably became extinct during the Oligocene due to a combination of climatic change, loss of shallow-water habitat, and changes in the trophic structure of the Wedell Sea.

(Received November 13 1991)
(Accepted February 20 1992)

Key Words: wrasse; Labridae; Eocene; Seymour Island; Antarctica.