|Reconstruction of Palaeospondylus as an agnathan|
Palaeospondylus is a fish-like fossil vertebrate. Its fossils are described from the Achanarras slate quarry in Caithness, Scotland.
The fossil as preserved is carbonized, and indicates an eel-shaped animal up to 6 centimetres (2 in) in length. The skull, which must have consisted of hardened cartilage, exhibits pairs of nasal and auditory capsules, with a gill apparatus below its hinder part, and ambiguous indications of ordinary jaws.
The phylogeny of this fossil has puzzled scientists since its discovery in 1890, and many taxonomies have been suggested. In 2004, researchers proposed that Palaeospondylus was a larval lungfish. Previously, it had been classified as a larval tetrapod, unarmored placoderm, an agnathan, an early stem hagfish, and a chimera. A 2017 study suggested that it was a stem chondrichthyan.
In 2022, researchers report, based on studies using synchrotron radiation X-ray micro-computed tomography, that the neurocranium of Palaeospondylus was similar to those of the stem-tetrapods Eusthenopteron and Panderichthys, and concluded that Palaeospondylus was between those two phylogenetically.
Powered by 654 easy search