Coelacanths from the Middle Triassic of Switzerland and the pace of actinistian evolution

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Christophe Ferrante
Rossana Martini
Heinz Furrer
Lionel Cavin


Latimeria chalumnae (Actinistia) was regarded as the ‘ancestor of the four-legged vertebrates’ and rapidly became the iconic example of a ‘living fossil’. Although its evolutionary position close to the origin of tetrapods is now dismissed, the question of its evolutionary pace is still a matter of debate. The UNESCOs’ World Heritage Monte San Giorgio Triassic site, spanning the border between Italy and Switzerland in the Southern Alps, has yielded one of the major marine vertebrate assemblages of the Middle Triassic worldwide. This general overview of the Middle Triassic coelacanths from Switzerland heralds a project that will be conducted in the following years. The project consists firstly to prepare, describe and compare the coelacanth material from the Besano Formation housed in the collection of the University of Zurich.

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