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Asia–Gondwana connections indicated by Devonian fishes from Australia: palaeogeographic considerations

  • Young, Gavin Charles1, 2
  • Lu, Jing1, 3, 4
  • 1 Australian National University, Canberra, Australia , Canberra (Australia)
  • 2 Australian Museum Research Institute, Sydney, Australia , Sydney (Australia)
  • 3 Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology & Paleoanthropology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, 10004, China , Beijing (China)
  • 4 CAS Center for Excellence in Life and Paleoenvironment, Beijing, 10004, China , Beijing (China)
Published Article
Journal of Palaeogeography
Springer Singapore
Publication Date
Apr 07, 2020
DOI: 10.1186/s42501-020-00057-x
Springer Nature


Middle Palaeozoic vertebrate fossil occurrences are summarised for Australia, with reference to faunal connections between Asia and East Gondwana, as first indicated by fish distributions of Lower Devonian fossil sites. Major endemic groups discussed are pituriaspid (Australian) and galeaspid (Asian) agnathans, wuttagoonaspids (Australian) and antarctaspid (Antarctic, Australian, Asian) arthrodires, yunnanolepid and sinolepid antiarchs (South China, Indochina terrane, Australia), and early tetrapodomorphs (South China, Australia). More widespread groups that lived in shallow marine environments (lungfishes, buchanosteid arthrodires, antiarch Bothriolepis) also show species groups shared between South China and East Gondwana. Exchange of continental facies fishes (e.g. tristichopterid tetrapodomorphs) may have been interrupted by marine transgression in the Frasnian, but were restored in the late Famennian with the appearance of Grenfellaspis in eastern Australia, the only sinolepid antiarch known from outside Asia. The hypothesis of Gondwana dispersion and Asian accretion, to explain the collage of geological terranes forming modern east and southeast Asia, implies increasing dissimilarity with increasing age, but the Siluro-Devonian early vertebrate evidence is inconsistent with this. Previous cladistic analysis of Asian terranes predicted galeaspid agnathans on the Indochina terrane, and their subsequent discovery at Ly Hoa, Vietnam, confirms that Indochina and South China had come together across the Song Ma suture by Middle Devonian time.

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