Remarkable multicuspid teeth in a new elusive skate (Chondrichthyes, Rajiformes) from the Mediterranean Pliocene
Collareta, A.; Mollen, F.H.; Merella, M.; Casati, S.; Di Cencio, A. (2021). Remarkable multicuspid teeth in a new elusive skate (Chondrichthyes, Rajiformes) from the Mediterranean Pliocene. Paläontol. Z. 95(1): 117-128. https://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s12542-020-00542-7
In: Paläontologische Zeitschrift. Springer: Heidelberg. ISSN 0031-0220; e-ISSN 1867-6812, more
Here we report on four highly peculiar skate teeth from Arcille and Certaldo, two Pliocene localities of Tuscany (central Italy). While being attributable to Rajiformes and somewhat reminiscent of Dipturus and Rostroraja, these specimens display an unusual multicuspid tooth design that does not match any extinct or extant skate taxon known to date. The studied teeth are thus referred to a new genus and species of Rajiformes, Nebriimimus wardi gen. et sp. nov., which is here tentatively assigned to the family Rajidae. Based on pronounced morphological similarities between the rather large-sized teeth of the latter and those of extant nurse sharks, we hypothesise that N. wardi might have been capable of actively foraging upon relatively large food items compared to other rays. This extinct skate species was likely not a common component of the Pliocene Tuscan marine vertebrate assemblages. The palaeoenvironmental scenarios that N. wardi inhabited were marginal-marine and open shelf settings characterised by tropical climate conditions. As N. wardi is currently known only from lower to mid-Pliocene deposits of the Mediterranean Basin, it is tempting to speculate that its speciation dates back to an earliest Pliocene phase of diversification that also contributed to the emergence of the Mediterranean endemic stock of extant skate species.