Teleostean Otoliths from the Tertiary of New Zealand
[Communicated by Dr. C. A. Fleming, and read before the Wellington Branch, February 11, 1957; received by the Editor, March 8, 1956.]
Eleven new species of Tertiary Teleostean fish otoliths are described. Most are referred to living subantarctic deep-water groups.
Fish otoliths or ear-stones, although occurring not uncommonly in New Zealand Tertiary strata, have been rather neglected in relation to studies on other fossil forms. Apart from two papers by Frost in 1924 and 1927, no further attempts have been made to determine material collected.
In 1924 Frost ascribed 15 species to European Tertiary forms, but the New Zealand forms show significant differences when compared with the figures of the European species, suggesting that all are referable to new species. In addition, several of the specimens have been placed in incorrect genera, probably through lack of comparative extant material without which it is impossible to arrive at the correct determinations. Finally, the comparative features between the New Zealand and European forms have not been stated.
The specimens to be described were sent to me by Dr. C. A. Fleming, of the New Zealand Geological Survey, and were obtained from the following localities:—Takapau Survey District, Southern Hawke's Bay; Waimea Survey District, Westland; Kapitea Creek, Oparara Survey District, Nelson; North Bank, Karamea River, Block 6, Uawa Survey District; Block 16, Tutamoe Survey District. The types are in the New Zealand Geological Survey collection; numbers prefixed by GS are N.Z. Geological Survey macrofossil localities and those prefixed by “F” are microfaunal samples.
? Mystriophis obliquum n.sp. (Plate 32, fig. 5).
Dimensions: Length, 3.31 mm; width, 0.5 mm.
A biconvex, left sagitta otolith, pointed posteriorly and anteriorly. Rounded dorsal and ventral rims; oblique anterior rim. Outer face showing very indistinct radial ridges to the dorsal rim, otherwise smooth. Smooth inner face with a diagonal sulcus on the upper part, opening on the anterior rim, and not reaching the posterior rim. Sulcus slightly differentiated into ostium and cauda by a slight narrowing towards the posterior end, the ostium being longer than the cauda. Slight rostrum, no antirostrum or colliculi.
Locality and Horizon: GS3571, North bank, Karamea River, Oparara Survey District, Nelson, Clifdenian (Lower Miocene).
This appears to be referable to the species described by Frost in 1924 as Ophidium pantanelli, Bassoli O. pantanelli is actually an Apodal otolith referable to the genus.
Heterenchelys, occurring in large numbers in the English Bartonian at certain horizons. It differs considerably from the New Zealand species as it is much rounder, while the sulcus is straighter and is almost filled with colliculi.
The New Zealand form shows quite a resemblance to otoliths of the Ophichthyidae in its sulcus and general outline, and is especially similar to otoliths of the living Mystriophis rostellatus Richardson, in its outline and character of the sulcus, but that of the fossil form is more diagonal.
Heterenchelys crassus n.sp. (Plate 32, fig. 6.)
Dimensions: Length, 1.71 mm; width, 1.01 mm.
A biconvex, left sagitta otolith. Nearly straight dorsal rim, rounded posterior and ventral rims; oblique anterior rim. Smooth outer and inner face. Sulcus narrow, opening narrowly on upper part of anterior rim and not differentiated into ostium and cauda. No rostrum, antirostrum or excisura. No colliculi. Sulcus only reaching just over half way across the inner face.
The outline and diagonal sulcus compare closely with otoliths of the living Heterenchelys macrurus Regan, the fossil form differing in its narrower sulcus, which is also a little more undulating in its course.
Locality and Horizon: F.3042, Block 16, Tutamoe Survey District, with mollusca like basal Tutamoe. Lillburnian to Waiauan (Middle Miocene). One specimen.
Lampanyctus serratus n.sp. Plate 32, figs. 1–4.
Dimensions: Fig. 1—Length, 1.95 mm.; width, 1.45 mm. Fig. 2—Length, 2.00 mm.; width, 1.54 mm. Fig. 3—Length, 1.85 mm; width, 1.47 mm Fig. 4—Length, 1.60 mm; width, 1.24 mm.
Biconvex, oval sagitta otoliths. Dorsal and posterior rims rounded; ventral rim in left specimen (Fig. 1) rounded and in right specimen (Fig. 2) finely denticulated. Anterior rim oblique and notched. Smooth outer and inner faces. Rather wide, shallow sulcus opening on anterior rim and not reaching posterior rim. Ostium somewhat longer than cauda, both containing oval colliculi; ostium turning up slightly towards its extremity. Rostrum, antirostrum and excisura present.
These specimens are rather similar to otoliths from the extant Lampanyctus crocodilus Risso, and are undoubtedly referable to the Scopelidae. Frost, 1927, attributed this species to the European fossil form Scopelus pulcher Prochazka but the rounder outlines of the New Zealand specimens do not agree with those of S. pulcher as figured by Prochazka, Bassoli, Schubert and Pieragnoli. Possibly the otolith figured by Frost in 1924 as Scopelus sulcatus Proch. is also referable to this form as Frost's specimen appears to be very waterworn.
Locality and Horizon: F. 3105, 30 specimens, top of mudstone associated with conglomerate, Block 6, Uawa Survey District. Age about Tongaporutuan. F.3042, 8 specimens, Block 16, Tutamoe Survey District, with mollusca like basal Tutamoe. Lillburnian to Waiauan (Middle Miocene).
“Scopelus” ovatus n.sp Plate 32, figs. 10, 11.
Dimensions: Left specimen, length, 2.97 mm; width, 1.98 mm. Right specimen, length, 3.18 mm; width, 2.25 mm.
Left and right biconvex sagitta otoliths of oval outline. Dorsal rim feebly scalloped. Outer face ornamented with slight ribbing on the dorsal half of the otolith Smooth inner face, nearly flat, with a horizontal sulcus reaching the anterior rim but not opening on it and not reaching the posterior rim. Sulcus divided equally into ostium and cauda. Ostium shallow, oval: cauda slightly narrower, separated by very slight upper and lower angles. Rounded.
extremity of sulcus terminating well short of the posterior rim. No rostrum, antirostrum, excisura or colliculi. Sulcus completely surrounded by an oval area.
The sulcus of this form is definitely Scopelid in character, but these specimens are somewhat waterworn, so that it is unwise to attempt a more exact determination.
Locality and Horizon: GS3571, 9 specimens, North Bank, Karamea River, Oparara Survey District, Nelson. Clifdenian (Lower Miocene).
Gadidarum laevigatum n.sp. Plate 32, fig. 7.
Dimensions: Length, 1.73 mm; width, 1.21 mm.
A left, biconvex, sagitta otolith. Dorsal rim rounded with a slight depression towards the posterior end; oblique anterior rim; rounded ventral rim, somewhat pointed posteriorly. Smooth outer face. Smooth inner face with enclosed sulcus, somewhat deeply excavated Sulcus divided into ostium and cauda of equal length by a central constriction of superior and inferior cristae. No colliculi.
The equal division of sulcus into ostium and cauda is a feature of the otoliths of the Gadidae, and this specimen is rather similar to otoliths of the North European genus Brosmius but does not compare closely enough to be placed in this genus. In the absence of extant otoliths with which to compare this form it is only possible at present to assign this form to the Gadid family.
Locality and Horizon: F.3105, one specimen, top of mudstone associated with conglomerate, Block 6, Uawa Survey District. Age about Tongaporutuan (Upper Miocene).
Coelorhynchus regularis n.sp Plate 32, fig. 12.
Dimensions: Length, 9.63 mm. Width, 5.46 mm.
A left, sagitta otolith, pointed posteriorly and with rounded anterior rim; domed dorsal rim, prominently denticulated; ventral rim feebly denticulated, rounded and obtusely angled anteriorly. Outer face concave, with an irregular median ridge umbonated anteriorly and radial ribbing to all rims. Inner face convex, smooth, with a central, horizontal, shallow sulcus extending completely from posterior to anterior rim Sulcus divided into ostium and cauda by a central constriction of superior and inferior cristae. Ostium slightly shorter than cauda and both partially filled with colliculi. Rostrum, antirostrum and excisura absent.
This otolith shows a marked resemblance to the living Coelorhynchus fasciatus Regan, a subantarctic species ranging throughout the southern ocean, but differs in the shallower sulcus and more sharply differentiated ostium and cauda.
Locality and Horizon: GS2329, one specimen, soft grey sands below upper-most Te Aute limestone, Takapau Survey District, Southern Hawke's Bay. Waitotaran (Pliocene).
Coelorhynchus elevatus n.sp. Plate 32, fig. 13.
Dimensions: Length, 4.28 mm (incomplete); width, 3.40 mm.
The anterior half of a right, sagitta otolith. Dorsal rim high anteriorly, notched and prominently denticulated; anterior rim slightly rounded but nearly vertical; ventral rim rounded, sloping upwards towards the posterior end. Probably pointed posteriorly. Convex outer face strongly ornamented with radial ribbing and centrally placed treble tuberosities on the anterior part of the otolith. Smooth, nearly flat, inner face with a very shallow, horizontal sulcus, reaching the anterior rim and consisting of a short ostium divided from the cauda by a constriction of the superior and inferior cristae. No rostrum or antirostrum.
Although broken, this is a typical otolith of Coelorhynchus. It differs from C. regularis in the relatively higher dorsal rim, notch and is relatively thicker.
Locality and Horizon: GS3571, two broken examples, North Bank, Karamea River, Oparara Survey District, Nelson. Clifdenian (Lower Miocene).
Trachyrhynchus densus n. sp. Plate 32, fig. 15.
Dimensions: Length, 13.09 mm; width, 11.78 mm.
A thick, right sagitta otolith, somewhat waterworn. Oblique dorsal rim, slightly undulating, highest posteriorly with rounded angles at its junction with posterior and anterior rims. In this specimen the anterior and posterior rims are rounded, but it is likely that this is the result of attrition. Ventral rim rounded. Outer face convex, irregularly ornamented with rounded ridges and a central umbo. Inner face somewhat convex, sulcus wide, rather deeply excavated and oval in outline, opening on both anterior and posterior rims, but the true character of its extremities may be lost by wear. The sulcus is divided into ostium and cauda by a feeble constriction of superior and inferior cristae. They are of equal length.
This otolith is very similar to those of the extant Trachyrhynchus trachyrhynchus Risso, and is undoubtedly referable to this genus. It does not compare with any of the forms described from the European tertiaries.
Locality and Horizon: GS4889, one specimen, Kapitea Creek, 60 chains downstream from Callaghan's Creek, Waimea Survey District, Westland Tongaporutuan (?) (Upper Miocene).
Percidarum uawaensis n.sp. Plate 32, fig. 8.
Dimensions: Length, 1.56 mm; width, 1.15 mm.
A left, Percoid sagitta otolith. Outer face concave; inner face convex. Dorsal rim rounded and very slightly scalloped; ventral rim smooth and rounded; pointed posterior rim; oblique anterior rim. Outer face smooth, with a slight suggestion of ribbing on ventral half. Inner face smooth, with horizontal sulcus opening on anterior rim and not reaching the posterior rim at its pointed extremity. Sulcus consisting of a short, wide ostium and a fairly long, narrow cauda. Ostium and cauda differentiated by an angle on the crista inferior. Character of rostrum and antirostrum lost by attrition. No colliculi.
This is a characteristic Percoid otolith, but in the absence of suitable comparable living forms its generic determination is impossible at the present time.
Locality and Horizon: F.3105, 2 specimens, top of mudstone associated with conglomerate, Block 6, Uawa Survey District. Age about Tongaporutuan (Upper Miocene).
Notothenia tenuis n.sp. Plate 32, fig. 14.
Dimensions: Length, 4.21 mm; width, 3.26 mm.
A thin triangular, left sagitta otolith. Outer face slightly convex, smooth. Inner face flat. High dorsal rim, oblique posterior rim; nearly flat but slightly rounded ventral rim; slightly concave anterior rim. Horizontal sulcus divided into wide ostium and cauda by a marked central constriction of superior and inferior cristae. Moderate rounded rostrum, no antirostrum or excisura. Slight circular colliculi in ostium and cauda.
This otolith is very similar in character to that of the living Antarctic species Notothenia rossi, Richardson in the character of its sulcus, high dorsal rim and produced rostrum. It differs in its more triangular outline.
Locality and Horizon: F 3042, one specimen, Block 16, Tutamoe Survey District, with mollusca like basal Tutamoe. Lillburnian to Waiauan (Middle Miocene).
Jordanicus exiguus n.sp. Plate 32, fig. 9.
Dimensions: Length, 2.07 mm; width, 1.71 mm.
A roughly, triangular, left biconvex sagitta otolith. High dorsal rim, rounded ventral rim Smooth outer and inner faces. Sulcus completely enclosed, oval, undifferentiated, filled with a colliculum which is level with the surrounding face of the otolith.
Fig. 1.—Lampanyctus seriatus n.sp. Left sagitta otolith. Inner face. Fig. 2.—Lampanyctus serratus n.sp. Right sagitta otolith. Inner face. Fig. 3.—Lampanyctus serratus n.sp. Left sagitta otolith Inner face. Fig. 4.—Lampanyctus seriatus n.sp. Right sagitta otolith Inner face. Fig. 5.—? ? Mystriophis obliquum n.sp. Left sagitta otolith Inner face. Fig. 6.—Heterenchelys crassus n.sp. Left sagitta otolith Inner face. Fig. 7.—Gadidarum laevigatum n.sp. Left sagitta otolith Inner face. Fig. 8.—Percidarum uawaensis n.sp. Left sagitta otolith Inner face. Fig. 9.—Jordanicus exiguus n.sp. Left sagitta otolith Inner face. Fig. 10.—“Scopelus' ovatus n.sp. Left sagitta otolith Inner face. Fig. 11.—“Scopelus” ovatus n.sp. Right sagitta otolith Inner face. Fig. 12.—Coelorhynchus regularis n.sp. Left sagitta otolith Inner face. Fig. 13.—Coelorhynchus elevatus n.sp. Incomplete right sagitta otolith Inner face. Fig. 14.—Notothenia tenuis n.sp. Left sagitta otolith Inner face. Fig. 15.—Trachyrhynchus densus n.sp. Right sagitta otolith. Inner face. All figures magnified × 7, except Fig. 15, which is × 5.
This otolith compares well with otoliths of the living Jordanicus gracilis Bleeker, both in its outline and in the character of the sulcus, and may be referred to this genus. It is shorter and higher than Fierasfer nuntius Koken, described by Frost from the Oligocene of Waikaia, and is an undescribed species.
Locality and Horizon: GS3571, one specimen, North Bank, Karamea River, Oparara Survey District, Nelson. Age, Clifdenian (Lower Miocene).
The otoliths here described are mostly referable to living subantarctic groups which exist at considerable depths, suggesting that the beds in which the otoliths occur are of deep-water origin. It is probable that the specimens which are at present unidentifiable generically will be found to compare with deep-water forms from this area. However, their identification will depend on otoliths of the appropriate corresponding living forms coming to hand.
Bassoli, G. G., 1906. “Otoliti fossili terziari dell' Emilia,” Riv. Ital. Pal. 12, Fasc. 1. Perugia.
Frost, G. A., 1924. “Otoliths of Fishes from the Tertiary Formations of New Zealand,” Trans. N.Z. Inst., 55; 605–614.
—— G. A., 1928. “Otoliths of Fishes from the Tertiary Formations of New Zealand, and from Balcombe Bay, Victoria.” Trans. N.Z. Inst., 59; 91–97.
Pieragnoli, L., 1919. “Otoliti pliocenichi della Toscana,” Riv. Ital. Pal., 25; 21–44. Pl. 1–11. Parma.
Prochazka, V. J., 1893. “Das Miozän von Seelowitz in Mähren und dessen Fauna.” Sber. böhm. Franz-Josef Akad., 2.
Schubert, R. J., 1906. “Die Fisch-Otolithen des Osterreich-ungarischen Tertiars. 1–111.” Jb. k. geol. Reichsans. 56; 623–706. Tab. XVIII–XX. Wein.
Mr. F. C. Stinton,51 Craigmoor Avenue, Strouden Park, Bournemouth, England.