Antarctic Science

Earth Sciences

Definitive specimens of Merlucciidae (Gadiformes) from the Eocene James Ross Basin of Isla Marambio (Seymour Island), Antarctic Peninsula

Kerin M. Claesona1 c1, Joseph T. Eastmana1 and Ross D. E. Macpheea2

a1 Department of Biomedical Sciences, Ohio University Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine, Athens OH, USA

a2 Division of Vertebrate Zoology, American Museum of Natural History, New York NY, USA


An isolated partial right dentary (BAS D.515.2) collected by the British Antarctic Survey prompted a re-evaluation of gadiform remains from the La Meseta Formation (conventionally middle Eocene) of Isla Marambio (Seymour Island), Antarctic Peninsula. Modern gadiforms (hakes and cods) range from the Arctic to Antarctic, inhabiting deep sea benthic, shore, estuarine, and freshwater environments. Based on a fossil record primarily composed of otoliths, they are known to extend back to the Eocene and Oligocene. The new specimen was recovered from the fossil penguin locality D.515. It is characterized by a single row of sharp, ankylosed teeth set upon robust bony pedestals. The surface anterior to the mental foramen exhibits ascending and descending ridges with slightly rugose texture. The ascending ridge is fractured, but partially covers the lateral aspect of the tooth row. BAS D.515.2 is unlike the dentary of macrourid gadiforms, also recovered from the Eocene of Antarctica. BAS D.515.2 preserves several features similar to previously published accounts of the gadiform “†Mesetaichthys” from Isla Marambio. These specimens are probably the same taxon and their combined character suite indicates it is a member of Merluccidae. Thus, these are the only non-otolithic skeletal specimens of an Eocene hake known outside of the London Clay's †Rhinocephalus.

(Received November 15 2011)

(Accepted February 09 2012)

(Online publication May 14 2012)