JOHN G. MAISEY, JOHN M. MOODY
American Museum Novitates 2001 (3324), 1-27, (27 February 2001) https://doi.org/10.1206/0003-0082(2001)324<0001:AROTPE>2.0.CO;2
A new species of teleost, Araripichthys axelrodi, is described from the Lower Cretaceous (Aptian) Machiques Member of the Apon Formation, Venezuela. Its phylogenetic and biogeographic relationships are discussed; the new species represents both the oldest and the most primitive member of the genus. Araripichthys probably originated in the Pacific or western (Caribbean) Tethys and apparently dispersed eastward by the Albian, a pattern paralleled by Aptian and Albian foraminifers.
The phylogenetic position of Araripichthys is problematic; previously it has been classified either as an advanced teleost (within acanthomorphs) or at a much more primitive level within teleosts (as an elopocephalan incertae sedis). This uncertainty is compounded further by similarity to Ferrifrons and Acanthichthys (family Ferrifronsidae), two late Cretaceous genera that have been classified as primitive acanthopterygians. Araripichthys and the Ferrifronsidae display a curious mix of characters; they share some features with higher teleosts (clupeocephalans, neoteleosts, acanthomorphs), but lack (or are unknown in) many other characters of those groups. Consequently, these extinct taxa cannot be placed satisfactorily within a current phylogenetic framework of teleost fishes, but few characters support inclusion of Araripichthys within any group of higher teleosts.