Abstract

Several specimens of a fossil catfish, collected from the Eocene Mahenge site of Tanzania, are identified as a member of Chrysichthys (Claroteidae) based on several features, including long, thick pectoral and dorsal spines and the presence of nasal barbels. The fossil fish is described as a new species based on unique characters (e.g., 20 principal caudal fin rays). The fossil record of Siluriformes in Africa includes few articulated skeletons; isolated spines or crania are more common. Although several African Eocene catfish crania previously have been described in their own genera, the Mahenge specimens preserve details that indicate their relationship to the living genus Chrysichthys, and therefore the new species is included in that genus instead of being given its own. Previously, the oldest record for Chrysichthys was from the Pliocene; these specimens extend the range of Chrysichthys back to the Eocene. The Mahenge locality itself is significant because it contributes knowledge of the poorly known sub-Saharan Eocene fauna and flora.

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