Abstract

We here report the oldest remains (teeth) of the African tigerfish (Hydrocynus) from the Oued Méridja and Garet Dermchane sections, Hamada of Méridja deposits, in southwestern Algeria. The tigerfish, a large carnivorous fish today represented by several species in the freshwaters of Africa, was previously found in upper middle to upper Eocene deposits in Egypt and Libya. The remains described here are several million years older, being early to middle Eocene in age, and are associated with other fish elements including lungfish, polypterid, amiiform, possible cichlid, and Alestes and Brycinus material, along with several fish elements that cannot be associated with a specific taxon and some fragmentary amphibian bones. This represents the first detailed description of a freshwater fish assemblage from the Eocene of Algeria, although a short list of fish taxa from Eocene Algerian deposits was previously reported. Furthermore, these new Algerian fossils allow us to assess the hypothesized existence of an east–west or west–east hydrological connection between eastern and western parts of northern Africa. We suggest that the shared presence of tigerfish in the Eocene deposits of Algeria, Libya, and Egypt does not necessarily indicate a permanent (i.e., nonseasonal) connection east–west or west–east among these areas. Rather, the observed faunal similarities could have been the result of seasonal flooding that caused the dispersal of Hydrocynus and associated taxa across coastal flood plains.

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