Cretaceous characiform fishes (Teleostei: Ostariophysi) from Northern Tethys: Description of new material from the Maastrichtian of Provence (Southern France) and palaeobiogeographical implications
O. Otero, X. Valentin, G. Garcia, 2008. "Cretaceous characiform fishes (Teleostei: Ostariophysi) from Northern Tethys: Description of new material from the Maastrichtian of Provence (Southern France) and palaeobiogeographical implications", Fishes and the Break-up of Pangaea, L. Cavin, A. Longbottom, M. Richter
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The order Characiformes (Teleostei: Otophysi) is one of the most diverse freshwater fish groups. It contains around 1400 living species in South and Central America and Africa. Their fossil record starts in the Cretaceous on both continents and also in Europe. Here, we describe and discuss the occurrences of new characiform fish teeth from Provence (Maastrichtian, S. France). Five morphological types are recognized. They belong to possibly three different taxa, and they are regarded as Characiformes indet. However, two of them have resemblances to alestin fishes and could be related to the African family Alestidae. The characiform fishes from Provence are among the oldest known in Europe, together with a freshwater characiform fish occurring in Romania, and the recently described marine fish Sorbinicharax from Italy. The biogeographical history of characiform fishes has been intensively discussed during the last three decades. The group is generally accepted to be Gondwanan and its diversification linked with the break-up of this continent, with two main scenarios depending on whether the group is archaeo- or telolimnic. Some authors also propose a Pangaean origin. The recent discoveries of Sorbinicharax and of the fossils from Provence change our view on the Cretaceous characiform diversity and their early ecology, and they also enable us to re-evaluate the proposed biogeographical scenarios, reinforcing the hypothesis of the telolimny of the group.