Koonwarra Lake Fauna

Stanton

Joined February 2008

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Artist's Description

Various fish from the Koonwarra Lake Fauna, of Early Cretaceous Victoria province of Australia. Koonwarra Lake was situated within the Antarctic Circle, and is believed to have froze during winter time. Many members of the fish fauna are descended from members of the Talbragar River Beds fauna.

From top, <I>Koonwarria manifrons</i>, a stereotypical-looking bony fish endemic to Koonwarra: its taxonomic status is undecided, I think it may be a relative of the herrings. This species went kaput for good when Koonwarra Lake dried up for good, as opposed to, say, the extremely resourceful indigenous lungfish.
<i>Wadeichthys oxyops</i>, one of the last, if not the last of the archaeomaenids, a group of primitive bony fish that lived and thrived in eastern Gondawana from their first appearance during the Triassic, until the early Cretaceous, with the disappearance of <I>W. oxyops</i>
<i>Leptolepis koonwarriensis</i> was one of the last species of the otherwise fabulously successful genus, <I>Leptolepis</i>, with species inhabiting both marine and freshwater environments since the Mid Triassic (and until their demise some time during the Early Cretaceous). This superficially herring-like fish was the first bony fish genus which had skeletons composed primarily of bone, as opposed to being composed of bone and cartilage. Despite resembling a herring, minnow or sardine, <I>Leptolepis</i>’ relatives included the fearsome <I>Xiphactinus</i> and the monstrous <I>Leedsichthys</i>.
<i>Coccolepis woodwardii</i> was the very last paleoniscid, a group of primitive, and very scaly bony fishes that first appeared somewhere between the Devonian and Carboniferous. <I>C. woodwardii</i>, like all of the previous members of the genus, were probably small predators.
<i>Ceratodus avus</i>, a somewhat primitive lungfish, though, from what can be gleaned from its fossils, primarily toothplates, it was very similar, if not identical to the modern Australian lungfish, <I>Neoceratodus fosteri</i>.

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