Evolutionary Dynamics of Eocenen Antarctic Fishes

(FWF-Project P26465-B25)


Principle Investigator: Univ.-Prof. Dr. Jürgen Kriwet










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Background

The Palaeogene was one of the most important time intervals in global climatic developments characterized, inter alia, by a late Eocene transition from the greenhouse world to icehouse conditions (ca. 49–34 Ma). The final cooling phase across the Eocene–Oligocene (E–O) boundary (ca. 33.7 Ma) resulted in the thermal isolation of Antarctica and the establishment of large Antarctic ice sheets. These climatic changes, which persisted into the earliest Oligocene resulted in major biotic turnovers in marine and terrestrial floras and faunas. Today’s Southern Ocean, which is delimited by the circum-Antarctic current (Antarctic Convergence) and the Antarctic continent, which is located within it are amongst the most remote and coldest places in the world and are both a key element in any model of Earth processes and climatic changes as well as a site of unique evolutionary traits related to the abiotic characters. The extant fish fauna within the Antarctic Convergence is striking in its low taxonomic diversity and high number of endemic taxa. The chondrichthyan fauna is extremely impoverished compared to the modern teleost fauna and this situation was similar in the Eocene.

The project aims at documenting and analysing the biotic effects of both short-term and long-term climate and palaeogeographic changes in Antarctica focusing on the taxonomic composition and diversity dynamics of Eocene Antarctic holocephalan and elasmobranchian fishes, which will serve as model organisms for evolutionary patterns in high-latitudes. Analysing originations, extinctions, diversity and diversification patterns and the palaeoecology of chondrichthyans in combination with extrinsic factors, which might influence evolutionary processes (e.g., climatic changes, palaeogeographic constellations) throughout the Eocene until the thermal and geographic isolation of Antarctica will not only provide deeper insights into adaptive and evolutionary patterns of high-latitude cartilaginous fishes but also into the development and probably the origin of the conspicuous modern-day Antarctic fish fauna with no resident holocephalans and sharks. Previous hypotheses stating, for instance, that there is a continuous diversity increase until the middle Eocene and that the absence of chondrichthyans in the uppermost Eocene of Antarctica is the result of the onset of the thermal isolation of the Antarctic continent will be tested with rigorous methodological approaches.







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Locality and Material

The material that forms the basis of this project was assembled by an Argentine-Swedish field party as a joint project of the Instituto Antártico Argentino (IAA) and the Swedish Polar Secretary (SPFS) and is housed in the palaeozoological collections of the Swedish Museum of Natural History (NRM). This abundant new material of cartilaginous fishes from all stratigraphic levels of the La Meseta Fm. of Seymour Island (Antarctic Peninsula) was collected during three Antarctic summer campaigns (SWEDARP 2011 – 2013). Further field campaigns are planned for 2014 and 2015. The material was obtained by surface collecting and screen-washing of bulk samples. Currently, the NRM collection comprises > 3.500 specimens (isolated dental plates, teeth, placoid scales, fin spines, etc.). The significance of this new material is: (1) it represents the largest collection of cartilaginous fish remains from the Eocene of Antarctica up to now, (2) it includes abundant new material of hitherto incompletely known but also new taxa, (3) it contains the first chondrichthyan records from the upper most parts of the Antarctic Eocene and (4) it contains a highly diverse microvertebrate fauna including ample micro-teeth and placoid scales from different Eocene levels of Antarctica. This is the most complete collection of chondrichthyans from the Eocene of Antarctica in terms of number of specimens, taxonomic covering and stratigraphic distribution.





Eocene otoliths from Seymour Island.
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Goals:
The ultimate goal is to present a comprehensive study of cartilaginous fish assemblages from the Eocene of Antarctica including revisions of previously published records. Integrated goals of this project are to (1) establish the taxonomic / systematic composition and stratigraphic distribution of cartilaginous fishes for each Eocene stratigraphic unit (here TELMs) of Antarctica, (2) establish the quality of their fossil record, (3) analyse the faunal relationships (Beta Diversity) of Eocene Antarctic chondrichthyan compositions, (4) study the underlying evolutionary dynamics such as origination, diversification, diversity fluctuation and extinction patterns of fishes in high latitudes during the Eocene, (5) reconstruct ecological patterns of Eocene Antarctic chondrichthyans, and (6) to compare the assemblage with coeval faunas from the Northern Hemisphere (e.g., the famous Eocene lagerstätte Bolca, Italy) for better understanding distribution patterns (e.g, cosmopolitisms, endemisms).
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  • Team:
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    Collaborations:


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    Research Projects:

    Batchelor and master students (Palaeobiology, Zoology, Ecology) are welcome to conduct projects for their thesis within this project. Projects range from analytical studies employing rigorous mathematical approaches to analysing calcification patterns in skeletal elements of Antarctic fishes and taxonomic evaluations. As a Batcherlor or Masterstudent in the Vertebrate Palaeobiology Group, you will work in a very active and dynamic group on applied research projects.

    For more information please contact:

    Univ.-Prof. Dr. Juergen Kriwet
    Department of Palaeontology
    University of Vienna
    Geozentrum
    UZA 2
    Althanstrasse 14
    1090 Vienna, Austria
    Tel: ++43-1-4277 / 535 20     
    e-mail: juergen.kriwet@univie.ac.at

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    Publications:

    For PDFs visit https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Juergen_Kriwet
          Publications
    1. Schwarzhans, W., Mörs, T., Kriwet, J., Engelbrecht, A. & Reguero, M. 2016, online first. Before the freeze: Otoliths from the Eocene of Seymour Island, Antarctica, reveal dominance of gadiform fishes (Teleostei). Journal of Systematic Palaeontology, 15: 147–170 Doi:PDF 10.1080/14772019.2016.1151958.
    2. Kriwet, J., Engelbrecht, A., Mörs, T., Reguero, M. & Pfaff, C. 2016. Ultimate Eocene (Priabonian) chondrichthyans (Holocephali, Elasmobranchii) of Antarctica. – Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology, 36(5): e1160911 (19 pages). Link
    3. Engelbrecht, A., Mörs, T., Reguero, M. & Kriwet, J. 2017. Revision of Eocene Antarctic carpet sharks (Elasmobranchii, Orectolobiformes) from Seymour Island, Antarctic Peninsula. – Journal of Systematic Palaeontology: 15: 969–990. doi.org/10.1080/14772019.2016.1266048. PDF
    4. Engelbrecht, A., Mörs, T., Reguero, M. & Kriwet, J. 2017. Deep-water sharks (Squalomorphii) of the Eocene La Meseta Formation, Seymour Island, Antarctic Peninsula. – Journal of South American Earth Sciences, 78: 175–189. doi.org/10.1016/j.sames.2017.07.006.
    5. Engelbrecht, A., Mörs, T., Reguero, M. & Kriwet, J. 2017. A new sawshark, Pristiophorus laevis, from the Eocene of Antarctica with comments on Pristiophorus lanceolatus. – Historical Biology, 29: 841–853.doi: 10.1080/08912963.2016.1252761. PDF
    6. Marramà, G., Engelbrecht, A., Carnevale, G. & Kriwet, J. 2017. Eocene sand tiger sharks (Lamniformes, Odontaspididae) from the Bolca Konservat-Lagerstätte, Italy: Palaeobiology, palaeobiogeography and evolutionary significance. – Historical Biology. doi.org/10.1080/08912963.2017.1341503. PDF
    7. Marramà, G., Claeson, K. M., Carnevale, C., Kriwet, J. 2017. Revision of Eocene electric rays (Torpediniformes, Batomorphii) from the Bolca Konservat-Lagerstätte, Italy, reveals the first fossil embryo in situ in batoids and provides new insights into the origin of trophic novelties in coral reef fishes. – Journal of Systematic Palaeontology. doi: 10.1080/14772019.2017.1371257. PDF
    8. Engelbrecht, A., Mörs, T., Reguero, M. & Kriwet, J. in press. New carcharhiniform sharks (Chondrichthyes, Elasmobranchii) from the early to middle Eocene, of Seymour Island, Antarctic Peninsula. – Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology.
    9. Marramà G., Carnevale, G., Engelbrecht, A., Claeson, K.M., Zorzin, R., Fornasiero, M. & Kriwet, J. in press. A synoptic review of the Eocene (Ypresian) cartilaginous fishes (Chondrichthyes: Holocephali, Elasmobranchii) of the Bolca Konservat-Lagertätte, Italy. – Paläontologische Zeitschrift.


         Conference Abstracts
    1. Kriwet, J., Engelbrecht, A., Mörs, T., Reguero, M., Tambussi, C. & Stepanek, R. 2012. First chimeroid, batoid and shark records (Chondrichthyes: Holocephali, Elasmobranchii) from the uppermost horizons (Late Eocene, Telms 6 and 7) of the La Meseta Formation, Seymour Island, Antarctica. – Terra Nostra 2012 (3): 100.
    2. Engelbrecht, A., Kriwet, J., Mörs, T., Schwarz, C., Reguero, M. & Tambussi, C. 2013. A revision of Eocene Antarctic fishes (Vertebrata: Neopterygii: Teleostei). – In: Reitner, J., Qun, Y., Yongdong, W. & Reich, M. (eds): Palaeobiology and Geobiology of Fossil Lagerstätten through Earth History: 42; Universitätsverlag Göttingen.
    3. Engelbrecht, A., Kriwet, J., Mörs, T., Reguero, M. & Schwarz, C. 2013. New information on the cranial anatomy of ice-fishes (Teleostei, Notothenioidei) from Antarctica based on micro-CT analyse. – 10. Tagung der Gesellschaft für Ichthyologie (GfI): 15.
    4. Engelbrecht, A., Kriwet, J., Mörs, T. & Reguero, M. 2014. Diversity of Eocene Antarctic sand tiger sharks (Chondrichthyes, Odontaspididae): Climatic controls or implications for nursery areas? – Journal of Vertebrate Palaeontology, Program and Abstracts: 125.
    5. Engelbrecht A., Kriwet J., Mörs T. , Schwarz C., Reguero M. 2014. New information on diversity patterns of Eocene Antarctic sharks, skates and rays (Chondrichthyes, Elasmobranchii). – XXXIII SCAR Open Science Conference and COMNAP Symposium Success through International Cooperation: 407.
    6. Engelbrecht A., Kriwet J., Mörs T., Schwarz C. , Reguereo M. 2014. Origin of Antarctic ice-fishes (Teleostei, Notothenioidei): Current controversies and facts. – XXXIII SCAR Open Science Conference and COMNAP Symposium Success through International Cooperation: 716.
    7. Mörs, T., Engelbrecht, A., Kriwet, J., Schwarz, C. & Reguero, M. 2014. Origin of modern Antarctic ice-fishes (Teleostei, Notothenioidei) and the identity of Eocene fish remains from Seymour Island, Antarctica. – 4th International Palaeontological Congress - The history of life: A view from the Southern Hemisphere: 2019.
    8. Kriwet, J., Engelbrecht, A., Reguero, M. & Mörs, T. 2014. Eocene Antarctic fish diversity patterns revisited. – XII Annual Meeting of the European Association of Vertebrate Paleontologists: 192.
    9. Engelbrecht, A., Mörs, T., Reguerro, M. & Kriwet, J. 2015. New information on Eocene Antarctic Chondrichthyan diversity. – NOBIS, Program and Abstracts: 20.
    10. Engelbrecht, A., Kriwet, J., Mörs, T. & Reguero, M. 2015. Revision of Eocene Antarctic carpet sharks and ground sharks (Chondrichthyes, Orectolobiformes, Carchariniformes). – Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology, Program and Abstracts: 125.
    11. Schwarzhans, W., Kriwet, J., Mörs, T., Engelbrecht, A. & Reguero, M. 2015. Bridging the gap: otoliths from the Eocene of Seymour Island, Antarctica, reveal predominance of gadiform fishes (Teleostei). – XII International Symposium on Antarctic Earth Sciences, ISAES 2015, Goa, Abstracts: 472.
    12. Engelbrecht, A., Mörs, T., Reguero, M. & Kriwet, J. 2016. Small sharks – Big surprise: New information on diversity patterns of Eocene Antarctic chondrichthyes. – In: Niebuhr, B., Wilmsen, M., Kunzmann, L. & Stefen, C. (eds.): Fossils: Key to evolution, stratigraphy and palaeoenvironments: 49; Saxoprint GmbH, Dresden.
    13. Marramà, G., Claeson, K. M., Carnevale, C. & Kriwet, J. 2017. Eocene electric rays (Torpediniformes, Batomorphii) from the Monte Postale Site, Bolca Lagerstätte, Italy. – XVII edizione delle Giornate di Paleontologia, 24-26 maggio 2017 - Volume dei Riassunti: 53.
    14. Kriwet, J., Mörs, T., Reguero, M.A., Kiessling, W. & Engelbrecht, A. 2017. Diversity dynamics are linked to climate change in cartilaginous fishes (Chondrichthyes, Holocephali Elasmobranchii) from the Eocene of Antarctica. – Journal of Vertebrate Palaeontology, Program and Abstracts: 145.
    15. Kriwet, J., Mörs, T., Reguero, M.A., Kiessling, W. & Engelbrecht, A. 2017. Lessons from the past: Diversity dynamics are linked to climate change in elasmobranchs (Vertebrata, Chondrichthyes) in deep-time. – The 21st European Elasmobranch Association Annual Scientific Concerence, Amsterdam, Abstracts: 60.
    16. Kriwet, J., Mörs, T., Kiessling, W. & Engelbrecht, A. 2017. Drivers of post-Jurassic diversity dynamics of southern hemisphere elasmobranchs (Vertebrata, Chondrichthyes). – I Réunión de Paleontología de Vertebrados de Chile - Libro de Resúmenes: 12.



         Press releases
    1. "Hai"-Society in der eozänen Antarktis
    2. Die Urhaie, die aus der Antarktis kamen