Abstract

Oyenaster oblidus, Ocalaster timucum, and Ocalaster seloyi are new genera and species of the family Goniasteridae (Asteroidea) described from the Eocene Ocala Limestone of Florida. Although the fossil record of asteroids is sketchy, goniasterids appear to have been important contributors to marine communities since at least the Middle Jurassic. Similarities between living goniasterids and their fossil precursors indicate that plesiomorphy and convergence have been important in family history, and as a result, taxonomic interpretation is challenging. Even partial fossil goniasterids are rare, forcing systematists to rely heavily on isolated marginal ossicles, although some authors have expressed the need for caution. Building around three new taxa, we suggest that broader approaches can aid systematic interpretation of all crown-group asteroids. We also suggest that the inevitably idiosyncratic interpretations of marginal-based systematics can be partially tested using blind evaluations.

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