110 mn years old fish species found in Mexico

Last Updated: Sat, Jan 26, 2013 04:20 hrs

San Cristobal de las Casas (Mexico), Jan 26 (IANS/EFE) Mexican scientists have discovered fossils of two fish species that lived some 110 million years ago during the Cretaceous period in what is today the southeastern state of Chiapas, officials said.

The two new fossils were given the scientific names of Pepemkay maya and Zoqueichthys carolinae in honor of the Mayan and Zoque cultures in that southeastern part of the country, Chiapas state's Environment and Natural History Secretariat said Thursday.

The director of paleontology of the state agency, Marco Antonio Coutino, said the fossils were submitted to various studies to determine their characteristics, adding that both belong to the monophylum Acanthomorpha "to which almost a third of vertebrates belong that are living today".

He added that the specimens were found in the El Chango community in the central Chiapas municipality of Ocozocoautla de Espinosa, where a large number of fossils have been found.

Pepemkay maya has a skull without spines, a dorsal fin with five spines and eight soft ligaments, while the Zoqueichthys carolinae differs from the other by having a flat crest, and its pelvic and pectoral fins are shaped by 8 and 12 soft ligaments, respectively, said Bruno Than Marchese, head of the secretariat's paleontological collection.

He said that the new discovery of these species, which have also been found in Croatia, Britain, Israel, Italy, Lebanon, Morocco and Portugal as well as in the Antarctic, qualifies Chiapas as a "land of megadiversity in prehistoric times".



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