Devonian (Emsian-Eifelian) fish from the Lower Bokkeveld Group (Ceres Subgroup), South Africa
Four major groups of fish are represented by fragmentary remains from South Africa's Lower Bokkeveld Group of Early to Middle Devonian age: the Acanthodii, Chondrichthyes, Placodermi and Osteichthyes. These represent the oldest known occurrences of these groups in southern Africa, as well as an important addition to the very meagre record of earlier Devonian fish from the Malvinokaffric Province of southwestern Gondwana. Bokkeveld fish material comes from the Gydo (Late Emsian) and Tra Tra (Middle Eifelian) Formations of the Western Cape and Eastern Cape Provinces. The cosmopolitan marine acanthodian Machaeracanthus is represented only by isolated fin spines which may belong to two different species on the basis of their external ornamentation, cross-sectional outline and internal histology. The elasmobranchs are represented by four elements: (1) a flattened chondrocranium which bears affinity to the Late Devonian-Carboniferous symmoriid (protacrodont) 'cladodont' sharks. It is probably the earliest known (Emsian) shark chondrocranium; (2) an isolated, primitive scapulocoracoid with a very short coracoidal ridge; (3) ankylosed and isolated radials, interpreted as parts of pterygial plates of a paired fin of an unknown chondrichthyan bearing affinity to the Middle Devonian Zamponiopteron from Bolivia; and (4) isolated barlike structures, perhaps gill arch or a jaw elements, thought to be from the same taxon as (3). The placoderms are represented by an incomplete trunk armour and fragmentary, finely ornamented plates of a primitive antiarch. The Osteichthyes are represented by a single large scale of an unidentified dipnoan from the Eifelian of the Cedarberg range, as well as a probable sarcopterygian dermal plate from the Emsian of the Prince Albert area. These are among the earliest sarcopterygian remains recorded from the Malvinokaffric Province.