A new late Permian ray-finned (actinopterygian) fish from the Beaufort Group, South Africa

Bender, Patrick
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Bernard Price Institute for Palaeontological Research
A new genus and species of actinopterygian (ray-finned) fish, Kompasia delaharpei, is described from Late Permian (Tatarian) fluvio-lacustrine, siltstone dominated deposits within the lower Beaufort Group of South Africa. It is currently known from two localities on adjoining farms, Wilgerbosch and Ganora, both in the New Bethesda district of the Eastern Cape Karoo region. The fossils were recovered from an uncertain formation, possibly closely equivalent to the Balfour Formation, within the Dicynodon Assemblage Zone. Kompasia delaharpei differs from previously described early actinopterygians, including the recently described new lower Beaufort Group taxon Bethesdaichthys kitchingi, on the basis of a combination of skull and post cranial characters. The genus is characterised by: a uniquely shaped subrectangular posterior blade of the maxilla, a shortened dorsal limb of the preopercular, and a dermopterotic and dermosphenotic contacting the nasal; furthermore, the subopercular is equal to or longer than the opercular, the dorsal fin is situated in the posterior third of the body, slightly behind the position of the anal fin, and the anterior midflank scales exhibit a smooth dermal pattern or surface, with a number of faint ganoine ridges present parallel to the posterior and ventral scale margins. Kompasia appears to exhibit a relatively conservative morphology similar to that in the lower Beaufort Group taxon Bethesdaichthys kitchingi. As such, Kompasia is derived relative to stem-actinopterans such as Howqualepis, Mimia and Moythomasia, and also derived relative to earlier southern African Palaeozoic actinopterygians such as Mentzichthys jubbi and Namaichthys schroederi, but basal to stem-neopterygians such as Australosomus and Saurichthys.
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Ray finned; fish; Beaufort; South Africa