On the presence of Xiphactinus (Teleostei, Ichthyodectiformes) in the Coniacian-Campanian marine deposits of the Piedritas site, Coahuila, northern Mexico

  • Jesús Alvarado-Ortega Instituto de Geología, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, Ciudad Universitaria, Col. Copilco, Del. Coyoacán, Ciudad de México, 04510 Mexico.
  • Héctor Gerardo Porras-Múzquiz Museo de Paleontología de Múzquiz, Adolfo E. Romo 1701, La Cascada, 26343, Santa Rosa de Múzquiz, Melchor Múzquiz, Coahuila, Mexico.
Keywords: Xiphactinus, Ichthyodectiformes, Late Cretaceous, Piedritas, Coahuila, Mexico


The discovery of the first Mexican fossil specimen belonging to the species Xiphactinus audax is reported here. This specimen was recovered in the Coniacian-Campanian marine deposits of the Austin Group at the Piedritas site, within the homonymous ejido, Municipality of Ocampo, north of Coahuila. Although the specimen is strongly fragmentary, partially preserved by impressions or molds of the bones, and only shows parts of the head, the opercular series, and the pectoral fins, this has enough anatomical features that allow its specific taxonomic determination. Among these diagnostic features, this fossil has a well-developed ethmopalatine bone, a well-developed supraoccipital crest, a maxilla anteriorly higher than the rest of the bone, and a very robust palatine articular head. Particularly, this fossil exhibits two distinctive features of the genus Xiphactinus, a row of conical teeth, irregularly sized and distributed in the maxilla and dentary bones, as well as a pectoral radius 1 extremely developed and at least 2.5 times wider than the subsequent ray. At the same time, its teeth are smooth and have no sharp edges or carenae, which allows its specific identification. The present discovery complements the geographical distribution of Xiphactinus confirming its wide longitudinal distribution throughout America.

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