Exceptionally complete material of a new stethacanthid chondrichthyan, Akmonistion zangerli, gen. et sp. nov., formerly attributed to the ill-defined genera Cladodus and Stethacanthus, is described from the Manse Burn Formation (Serpukhovian, Lower Carboniferous) of Bearsden, Scotland. Distinctive features of A. zangerli include a neurocranium with broad supraorbital shelves; a short otico-occipital division with persistent fissure and Y-shaped basicranial canal; scalloped jaw margins for 6–7 tooth files along each ramus; a pectoral-level, osteodentinous dorsal spine with an outer layer of acellular bone extending onto a brush-complex of up to 160% of neurocranial length; a heterosquamous condition ranging from minute, button-shaped, flank scales to the extraordinarily long-crowned scales of the brush apex; and a sharply up-turned caudal axis associated with a broad hypochordal lobe. The functional implications of this anatomy are discussed briefly. The rudimentary mineralization of the axial skeleton and small size of the paired fins (relative to most neoselachian proportions) are contrasted with the massive, keel-like, spine and brush complex: Akmonistion zangerli was unsuited for sudden acceleration and sustained high-speed pursuit of prey. Cladistic analysis places Akmonistion and other stethacanthid genera in close relation to the symmoriids. These taxa are located within the basal radiation of the chondrichthyan crowngroup, but more detailed affinities are uncertain. They may represent a plesion series on the holocephalan stem lineage, or a discrete clade branching from the base of the elasmobranch lineage.
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Vol. 21 • No. 3