Abstract

A black marine mudstone in allomember A of the middle Cenomanian Dunvegan Formation, Alberta, yielded a well-preserved, deep-bodied fish skeleton attributable to a new genus and species, Tycheroichthys dunveganensis, in the Paraclupeidae (Clupeomorpha, Ellimmichthyiformes). This new taxon appears most closely related to members of the subfamily Paraclupeinae, which includes largely freshwater and estuarine or marginal marine species known from South and Central America and China. The Dunvegan Formation represents a large delta complex deposited in the Western Interior Seaway at about 65°N, where mean sea water temperature may have been about 10 °C. The specimen was found about 60 km from the contemporaneous shoreline, and, in life, apparently inhabited a shallow, muddy pro-delta environment characterized by high turbidity and variable salinity. The fish may have died when it was engulfed by brackish floodwater that also introduced suspended mud that rapidly buried the body, preventing physical disarticulation of the skeleton. River outflow probably produced a salinity- and density-stratified water column that limited oxygen transfer to the sea floor, leading to dysaerobic bottom water and an absence of scavengers. High terrestrial phytodetrital content of the sediment also favoured anaerobic conditions that limited bacterial decay.

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