Search for Early Devonian shark skeletons and associated Early Devonian fish fossils at the 'MOTH' locality, Mackenzie Mountains, N.W.T.

Regions: Dehcho Region

Tags: biology, fish, fossils, paleontology, biological evolution

Principal Investigator: Wilson, Mark V.H. (3)
Licence Number: 12877
Organization: University of Alberta
Licenced Year(s): 2013 1998 1996 1990
Issued: Jun 17, 1996
Project Team: A. Lindoe, G. Hanke, Dr. Tiiu Marss

Objective(s): To collect articulated skeletons of fossils specimens previously known only from fragmentary remains which strongly resemble shark scales. Intact or articulated fossils will be used to test whether the shark-like fragments previously collected are in fact sharks and will help clarify the evolutionary record of these problematic early vertebrates. In addition articulated specimens would represent the first record of sharks from other than just scales. Articulated specimens possessing these shark-like scales will be returned to the laboratory for comparison of the jaws, teeth, gills, fin spines, internal fin structure and or the anatomy of the tail, with other more recent fossil taxa. In addition, we will collect associated invertebrate, jawless vertebrate (lepidaspidids, cyathaspidids, pteraspidids, fork-tailed thelodonts, anaspidids cephalaspidids) and jawed vertebrates (placoderms and acanthodians) fossils from this site. As with the fragmentary shark-like material mentioned previously, these Upper Silurian-Lower Devonian fish are poorly known and more specimens will help determine evolutionary relationships. These other fossil taxa will be used in numerous research projects by current and future graduate students at the University of Alberta and at other institutions world wide.

Project Description: The researchers will collect Upper Silurian-Lower Devonian jawed and jawless fish fossils, with priority given to rare articulated specimens. Located specimens will be packaged and returned to the University of Alberta for preparation. The rock that encases the 'MOTH' fossils is removed either mechanically or by treatment with acetic acid such that the fine details are revealed with minimum damage to the fossils. These fossil fish should support years of research for the University of Alberta as well as collaborations with international scientists.