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Palestine Coelacanth († Macropomoides palaestina Khalaf, 2013)

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A new fossil species of Coelacanth Fish from the Early Miocene of the genus Macropomoides (Class Sarcopterygii, Subclass Crossopterygii, Order Coelacanthiformes, Suborder Latimerioidei, Family Latimeriidae) was found at the Anthracothere Hill in Al-Naqab (Negev), Palestine. It belongs to the Family Latimeriidae and therefore closely related to the living coelacanth Latimeria. The new fossil species is distinguished from the Lebanese Coelacanth fossil species Macropomoides orientalis Woodward, 1942 by its slightly different skeletal, skull and fin features. It is morphologically a distinct species. The new species was named † Macropomoides palaestina Khalaf, 2013 by the Palestinian-German Zoologist Prof. Dr. Norman Ali Bassam Khalaf-von Jaffa. Naomi F. Goldsmith and Ilana Yanai-Inbar (1997) from the Blaustein Institute and Pathology Department, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev wrote in the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology: “Using Latimeria chalumnae as reference for the fish fossils found at Anthracothere Hill in the Negev (south) of Israel, we test B. Schaeffer's 1977 theorem {Differences in the histology and gross form of the teeth, dermal skull elements, scales and fin components obviously have systematic significance. If we are concerned with extinct animals, we can compare directly only structure in attempting to infer relationships}." The corollaries we infer are: 1) If there are no differences, it is likely we are dealing with an identity, or at best a similarity of incertae sedes... 2) Furthermore, if Latimeria appears in the 20th century off the east African coast after a 70 Ma absence, it had to have been somewhere. Intervening coelacanthid specimens in Africa are found in Madagascar's Trias (Moore 1995), Niger's E. Cretaceous (Wenz 1975) and the Negev Miocene. The North African sites were bound by the Tethys Ocean; both also sheltered Lates (Gayet et al.1983; N.F. Goldsmith et a1.1982). But the major transport mechanism, as geophysicists Molnar, Royer, and Dyment agree, was by the northward bound India Plate and the opening of the Red Sea at Aden (Goldsmith and Yanai-Inbar 1997). Further tests compare Negev fossils with teeth and bones in the first Latimeria dissection (Millot, Anthony 1958) and teeth of preserved Latimeria at the California Academy of Sciences, San Francisco, and the Museums of Natural History in Stockholm, Washington, New York, London and Paris (Goldsmith and Yanai-Inbar 1997). Scanning electron microscopy (SEM) analyses replicate the results of Boyde (1972), Meinke (1982), and Smith (1978); the bone shows sensory canals as demonstrated by Wenz (1975). Q.E.D. (Goldsmith and Yanai-Inbar 1997). Genus Macropomoides Woodward 1942: The body is relatively deep and reaches about 300 mm SL. The head bones are without ornament; a preorbital is absent; the lachrymojugal is narrow beneath the eye and barely larger than the enclosed sensory canal; postorbital is deep, expanded dorsally with a narrow ventral limb; the squamosal is very small and both the spiracular and the preoperculum may be absent. The premaxilla carries a few stout teeth. The operculum is rounded poster-odorsally with a very oblique ventral margin. Sensory canals open by a few large pores on the parietonasal shield; the angular and splenial each have four large sensory pores. Teeth upon the parasphenoid are restricted to the anterior third of the bone. The principal coronoid has a distinct waist and a longitudinally expanded head. The gular plates are twice as long as broad. The anocleithrum is forked dorsally with a narrow dorsal limb and a broad anterodorsal limb. Short ribs are developed throughout the posterior half of the abdominal region. The caudal fin has a rounded posterior margin which encloses the supplementary lobe. Pointed denticles are present on at least the first three rays of D1 and the leading rays of the principal caudal lobes. The pelvic bone is a simple rod with a proximal lateral expansion and the D1 support has a prominent anteroventrally directed thickened ridge. The scales are ornamented with many closely spaced denticles which, like the denticles on the fins, bear many fine striations. Those scales beneath and behind the level of D1 show a prominent central denticle (the only denticle present in small specimens) (Forey 1997/1998). Article Reference: Khalaf-Sakerfalke von Jaffa, Prof. Dr. Sc. Norman Ali Bassam Ali Taher (2013). † Macropomoides palaestina Khalaf, 2013 : A New Coelacanth Fish Fossil Species from the Anthracothere Hill in Al-Naqab, Palestine. Gazelle: The Palestinian Biological Bulletin. ISSN 0178 – 6288. Number 107, November 2013, Muharram 1435 AH. pp. 30-38. Dubai and Sharjah, United Arab Emirates. BioLib Classification: Palestine Coelacanth († Macropomoides palaestina Khalaf, 2013).