Known since the 16th century, Pesciara di Bolca in Italy represents one of the most intensively sampled Eocene marine localities, providing an unparalleled window on the early evolution of modern marine faunas (Friedman and Carnevale, 2018). Although the long-term collecting efforts have resulted in the identification of more than 80 vertebrate families, the complex alpha taxonomy of chondrichthyans, mostly represented by exquisitely preserved individuals, has received attention only in the last few years (Fanti et al., 2016; Marramà et al., 2017, 2018a, 2018b, 2018c, 2018d). Restoration of damage caused by an earthquake brought the historical Bolca collection of the Museo Geologico Giovanni Capellini (Bologna, Italy) under close reexamination. Among others, a complete whiptail stingray of the myliobatiform family Dasyatidae, Tethytrygon muricatus, was restored and examined in detail. The use of ultraviolet (UV) light unveiled details of the shape and size of the fins, individual skeletal cartilages, and soft tissues. The individual is interpreted as a sexually mature female based on the absence of claspers and presence of the uterus bearing four eggs. This is the first report of preserved fossilized eggs for stingrays, and in general of eggs in situ in a fossil batoid. Shape, microscopic structure, and relative size of the eggs compared with the overall body size of the specimen indicate an early stage of development of the eggs but also provide a remarkable opportunity to compare fossil and extant representatives of this clade and to further discuss the postulated Eocene ‘nursery’ habitat for the Bolca locality. This fossil demonstrates that a modern reproductive strategy had already been acquired in the early Cenozoic at a body size similar to that of sexually mature extant stingrays.

Egg preservation in an Eocene stingray (Myliobatiformes, Dasyatidae) from Italy

GIUSEPPE MARRAMÀ
Last
2019

Abstract

Known since the 16th century, Pesciara di Bolca in Italy represents one of the most intensively sampled Eocene marine localities, providing an unparalleled window on the early evolution of modern marine faunas (Friedman and Carnevale, 2018). Although the long-term collecting efforts have resulted in the identification of more than 80 vertebrate families, the complex alpha taxonomy of chondrichthyans, mostly represented by exquisitely preserved individuals, has received attention only in the last few years (Fanti et al., 2016; Marramà et al., 2017, 2018a, 2018b, 2018c, 2018d). Restoration of damage caused by an earthquake brought the historical Bolca collection of the Museo Geologico Giovanni Capellini (Bologna, Italy) under close reexamination. Among others, a complete whiptail stingray of the myliobatiform family Dasyatidae, Tethytrygon muricatus, was restored and examined in detail. The use of ultraviolet (UV) light unveiled details of the shape and size of the fins, individual skeletal cartilages, and soft tissues. The individual is interpreted as a sexually mature female based on the absence of claspers and presence of the uterus bearing four eggs. This is the first report of preserved fossilized eggs for stingrays, and in general of eggs in situ in a fossil batoid. Shape, microscopic structure, and relative size of the eggs compared with the overall body size of the specimen indicate an early stage of development of the eggs but also provide a remarkable opportunity to compare fossil and extant representatives of this clade and to further discuss the postulated Eocene ‘nursery’ habitat for the Bolca locality. This fossil demonstrates that a modern reproductive strategy had already been acquired in the early Cenozoic at a body size similar to that of sexually mature extant stingrays.
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FEDERICO FANTI, GABRIELE MAZZUFERI, GIUSEPPE MARRAMÀ
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/2318/1758451
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