E&H students present at paleontology conference

by Billy Chandler

Zoe DeWees and Hayden Jackson presented at the 83rd annual Society of Vertebrate Paleontology meeting in Cincinnati, Ohio (10/18-10/21/2023). They were accompanied by their project mentor, Dr. Chris Fielitz, and Biology Department Chair, Dr. George Argyros. The project was titled: A Non-otolith Acanthomorph Fish Specimen from the Ripley Formation, Coon Creek Member (Late Cretaceous: Maastrichian) of Mississippi, USA. 

During the late Cretaceous (100 mya to 66 mya), Alabama, Mississippi, and western Tennessee were submerged under an extension of the Gulf of Mexico called the Mississippi Embayment. Fossil fish from this formation are known mostly from otoliths, which are tiny structures found in the inner ear that help with balance and body orientation. In fish, otoliths tend to be diagnostic to at least the genus level. The specimen they described appeared to be an acanthomorph fish. They compared the bones of this unknown fish to that of bones of known fish genera that had otolith representatives in this formation. It turns out that the genus that most closely matched was not on the list of otolith genera, but from Europe.

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