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FossilDudeCO

New species or genetic mutation?

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FossilDudeCO

I have been blessed this summer to have some amazing finds up in Green River. A couple of them come in the form of strange pathologies on a common fish.

 

The Priscacara (or Cockerellites as it is now known) Is quite a common fish to find in multiple layers of the Green River Formation.

The Cockerellites is closely related to modern perch, and is a highly prized fish due to it's unique appearance!

 

I know there was a paper recently written (I believe in 2010) by John Whitlock, but I cannot seem to find it on any open access sites.

 

Part of his debate for a new genus is fueled by the fact that serrata and liops have differing numbers of dorsal and anal spines. I present to you today 2 of my more uncommon finds from Green River showing variations of these animals. 99%+ of the Cockerellites found have just 10 dorsal spines, I present today my 2 unique finds from this past dig season!

 

Fish number 1 was discovered on July 29, 2017

Fish number 2 was discovered on September 23, 2017

 

The first picture shows a Cockerellites liops with 11 dorsal spines.

DSCN5102.thumb.JPG.af495aa22302e72d9cc9b11d9704ca1a.JPG

 

this second photos shows an even more perplexing mutation. This Cockerellites liops has 12 dorsal spines!!

DSCN5104.thumb.JPG.600e2ff4cf859eea29431bca1d89d689.JPG

 

While multiple fish have been found with 11 dorsal spines, I am unsure if anyone has ever found a fish with 12 dorsal spines. This is a very unique occurrence and should this fish be a new variant it will be donated to Fossil Butte National Monument! Even though he is missing most of his anal fins, this fish could still be a very important specimen to show mutations.

 

So, do you think these 2 fish could represent new species within the Genus?

Or are they simply mutations?

 

 

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ynot

Could it be an unusual interspecies variation? Like a homosapien with 6 toes?

I personally would have a hard time assigning a new species based on the addition or lack of 1 or 2 fin spines.

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Fossildude19

@RLG

 

Interesting fish, Blake. :headscratch:

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WhodamanHD

Intresting find! Id reckon it's a new species (based on absolutely no knowledge).

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FossilDudeCO
2 hours ago, ynot said:

Could it be an unusual interspecies variation? Like a homosapien with 6 toes?

I personally would have a hard time assigning a new species based on the addition or lack of 1 or 2 fin spines.

Yes, that's more what I mean when I say mutation, I like that, interspecies variation! *steals for later use*

 

I can't imagine just on the spines alone it could be a new species, but I am currently in the process of counting every other bone in my 12 spine fish versus 3 of my 10 spine fishes and my 11 spine fish. If it has 12 spines, who knows what other extras it might have!

 

I found this one while I was on a quest this year to uncover a Cockerellites with 4 anal spines. I have heard of them, but only seen 1, it was a large Priscacara seratta

 

I really was hoping someone with access to the research paper may be able to share it! Perhaps @Fruitbat or @doushantuo can find it in their vast PDF's?

This is all I have on it though (Phylogenetic relationships of the Eocene percomorph fishes Priscacara and Mioplosus.)

 

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ynot
3 minutes ago, FossilDudeCO said:

I am currently in the process of counting every other bone

Wouldn't it work better if You counted all the bones, not just every other bone?:headscratch::P:rofl:

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Fruitbat

FossilDudeCO...

 

This may be the Whitlock article you're referring to:

 

Whitlock, J.A. (2010). Phylogenetic Relationships of the Eocene Percomorph Fishes Priscacara and Mioplosus. Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology, 30(4).

 

I don't know how long the link is good for so you might want to grab it fast!

 

-Joe

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ashcraft

If the specimen is related to perch (whether you are referring to sunfish or pike), I would look to see if modern species have variation in their spine numbers.

 

Fried sunfish perch are my favorite eating fish

Brent Ashcraft

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doushantuo

:dinothumb::D

Doug Barton adressed meristic variation in his thesis with regards to Eocene Amyzon from the similarly varved Eocene Horsefly deposit. 

I will not post it,coz' of the useless "Rorschach" pics.

Multivariate statistics would be the order of the day,anyway,to get at the bottom of this.

Not everybody seems to agree on "Jordan's Rule" and/or the influence of e.g. temperature (-/variation during ontogeny)on skeletal counts.

Generally speaking ,the last elements to ossify seem to show the most plasticity.

 

56jghb.jpg

lindmeristbidastcajjes.jpg

lind2idastcajjes.jpg

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FossilDudeCO

thank you everyone for all of the replies!

Thanks to Joe for the paper!

 

It is only 12 pages, but I will have to give it a read tomorrow.

 

@snolly50 I totally overlooked the "X" in his eye! You are correct, just for that this is a museum worthy piece! Does the Snolly Museum of Natural Wonders offer a tax exemption letter :P 

 

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Ludwigia

I'd go along with Tony in suggesting that these are variations within a species, even if you also happen to find a few extra bones. I belong principally to the "lumper" fraction as opposed to the "splitters", who used to create a new species at every miniscule opportunity. The general tendency today, at least with ammonite taxonomy, is to define species in a broad sense allowing for many variations.

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Jesuslover340

I have a similar issue with an Aussie croc jaw. On the one hand, the spacing of the alveoli matches Pallimnarchus pollens. On the other hand, the alveoli are unusually laterally compressed and look more akin to P. gracilis. Yet, P. gracilis does not have bunching of the 9th and 10th alveoli as my specimen does. So, which is it? I cannot say. Perhaps I should post up my own topic concerning it...

That being said, I am in Ludwigia's camp. I reckon too many small variations within individuals of a species are overlooked and presumed to be indicative of being a new species. A prime modern-day example I love to use is that of dog breeds. All breeds are of the same species, but do they ever show variation... I often suspect that in an unlikely scenario wherein if Man's best friend were to go extinct, paleontologists of the future would be quick to assume each breed as being a new species. Which brings me to muse on how many fossils labeled as being a different species are actually just some variant of another species.

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Al Dente

If you use identification keys for modern fish you will notice that they give a range for the number of fin spines present for each species. A lot of variation in nature.

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RJB

Wow!  This is interesting.  I have looked for the Cockerellites with the 4 anal spines, (still havent found one),  but never thought to count the dorsal spines.  Now I have to find all my fossil bluegills and start counting. 

 

RB

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snolly50
9 hours ago, FossilDudeCO said:

I totally overlooked the "X" in his eye! You are correct, just for that this is a museum worthy piece! Does the Snolly Museum of Natural Wonders offer a tax exemption letter :P 

Certainly! The sMNW will be happy to provide a letter stating that it is felt you deserve a tax benefit. This document can even be printed on the faux parchment used to print "certificates of authenticity" for expensive items from the gift shop. In that manner the tax letter will carry the same weighty authority as those certificates. 

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FossilDudeCO

While I am mainly in the boat of this being an odd variation within a species @Jesuslover340 brings up a good point with dogs, I have thought about this as well.

 

How exactly is it justified that a Dachsund and an Alaskan Malamute are the exact same species? They shared a common ancestor, but they look nothing alike now, and future paleontologists would have practically no way of knowing if there were no written documents to go with the bones.

 

Using the dog example we could argue the same for other species, say, sharks. They all shared a common ancestor so are they the same species simply showing variations?

 

Well why stop there? Could we not say that we are all related to the first lifeform that climbed out of the primordial ooze so therefore every living and deceased animal shares a common ancestor and is therefore simply a variation of a singular species?

 

My brain hurts now....

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Ludwigia
1 hour ago, FossilDudeCO said:

While I am mainly in the boat of this being an odd variation within a species @Jesuslover340 brings up a good point with dogs, I have thought about this as well.

 

How exactly is it justified that a Dachsund and an Alaskan Malamute are the exact same species?

It's actually quite simple. When a Dachshund and a Malamute manage to perform a particular activity, then after a few months a little Dachsamute, or in some cases a Malahund, is produced.

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snolly50

@FossilDudeCO, @Jesuslover340

 

While your observations regarding dogs are compelling and certainly logical, there is a twist to that story. I believe dogs, as we commonly know them, are great examples of "unnatural, natural selection." This is reflected in the common reference, "breed." Humankind has monkeyed with the characteristics of the noble dog for its own purpose. Sub-species or new species arise when a group is isolated from the "parent" group. (Best easy example, on an island). In that way an adaptive (or not, as long as it's not pernicious) trait takes hold. Dogs have been breed in isolation, that is access to breeding partners controlled by Humankind. Of course they remain cross-fertile - a diagnostic species test. Edit: While I two-finger typed, @Ludwigia gracefully spoke to this fact. 

 

I am not an expert on dog anatomy, but I am willing to guess that dogs are very alike across breeds; varying mostly superficially (e.g. size/color) as opposed to structurally. The fascinating (to me) issue, that dogs bring to genetic discussion, is behavioral. Are the vastly different abilities of a German Shepherd and a Black Lab genetically determined? Without question, in my mind. This speaks to the intriguing thought - How much of Human behavior is hardwired, dictated by our genes?  

 

This is a fascinating and albeit superficially straightforward area of inquiry. However, it is actually slippery and complex; because behavioral conditioning of Humans and animals is a well established fact. Therefore teasing out the genesis of behavior (the old Nature vs Nurture) is confounded.

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WhodamanHD

Fossils are generally only able to be distinguished morphologically, while genetics and other techniques separate modern species ( if the grey tree frog was a fossil, there would be no way to tell the difference from copes grey tree frog which differs only in its call, range, and chromosome count)

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FossilDudeCO

From such a simple strange fish the most thoughtful discussion I have been part of has taken place!

I am enjoying these comments immensely!

So much to think about really. 

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snolly50
1 hour ago, FossilDudeCO said:

From such a simple strange fish the most thoughtful discussion I have been part of has taken place!

I am enjoying these comments immensely!

So much to think about really. 

Blake, this is a fascinating topic (genetics, evolution). I am especially interested in behavioral genetics. However, any contribution I might have made with my comments should be viewed skeptically. After all, "I'm just a simple caveman..."

No really. I participated in the Genographic Project. My DNA reveals a contribution of 2.3% Neanderthal and 2.2% Denisovan. The snollywife says; "That explains a lot!" 

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FossilDudeCO
19 minutes ago, snolly50 said:

Blake, this is a fascinating topic (genetics, evolution). I am especially interested in behavioral genetics. However, any contribution I might have made with my comments should be viewed skeptically. After all, "I'm just a simple caveman..."

No really. I participated in the Genographic Project. My DNA reveals a contribution of 2.3% Neanderthal and 2.2% Denisovan. The snollywife says; "That explains a lot!" 

That does explain quite a bit, I am surprised it is such a low percentage!

All joking aside, this topic is not my strong point either!

I feel like it is a discussion that could go on forever here!

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ynot
3 hours ago, FossilDudeCO said:

Well why stop there? Could we not say that we are all related to the first lifeform that climbed out of the primordial ooze so therefore every living and deceased animal shares a common ancestor and is therefore simply a variation of a singular species?

 

I believe that in order for 2 animals to be considered the same species that they have to be able to bread and make a viable offspring.

I can not impregnate a fish therefore I am not the same species as a fish.

However, a lion can bread with a tiger and produce a viable offspring. So I am unsure about all of this.

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FossilDudeCO
4 minutes ago, ynot said:

I believe that in order for 2 animals to be considered the same species that they have to be able to bread and make a viable offspring.

I can not impregnate a fish therefore I am not the same species as a fish.

However, a lion can bread with a tiger and produce a viable offspring. So I am unsure about all of this.

Well said Tony.

Also, a Horse and a Donkey can breed, yet they make a mule!!

 

I also remember a news story out of Japan a little while back in which a Monkey was caught err...consummating with a small deer like animal.

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