Abstract

A new genus and species of Late Cretaceous euteleost, Avitosmerus canadensis, is described from an assemblage of fossil fishes found in a Late Cretaceous (Turonian) unnamed member (unit E) of the Great Bear Basin from Lac des Bois, Northwest Territories, Canada. It is a small fusiform fish characterized by a long slender supraorbital, the presence of a small suprapreopercle, branches of the preopercular sensory canal that reach the edge of the preopercle, and an anterior supraneural that is twice as large as those posterior to it. Additionally, elements of its caudal fin show a high degree of fusion. Avitosmerus is one of ten described Cretaceous basal euteleosts that are found worldwide (Avitosmerus, Barcarenichthys, Erichalcis, Gaudryella, Gharbouria, Humbertia, Kermichthys, Manchurichthys, Paravinciguerria, and Stompooria). Avitosmerus and Erichalcis are the only two basal euteleosts that have been described from the Cretaceous of North America. Placement of Avitosmerus into the Euteleostei is based on the presence of a free stegural, and the large first supraneural. Both of these characters are somewhat controversial and are in need of reexamination. Avitosmerus shares a number of characters with the other Cretaceous basal euteleosts, as well as Recent basal euteleosts, including a separate rostrodermethmoid and mesethmoid (Gaudryella, Erichalcis, Gharbouria, the Osmeridae, and the Coregonidae), lobate condyles of the hyomandibula (Avitosmerus, Gaudryella, and Gharbouria), leaf-shaped neural spine on the first preural centrum (Kermichthys), and the fusion of the parhypural, first, and second hypurals (Gaudryella).

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