A nearly complete specimen of a new coelacanth is described from the Oxfordian of Burgundy, France. Wenzia latimerae, gen. et sp. nov., shares unique features with both the extant coelacanth Latimeria and the Mesozoic coelacanth Macropoma. It displays a unique combination of primitive characters (such as the presence of a spiracular bone and postparietal pit-lines), and derived characters (such as a postparietal shield with raised areas and very short relatively to the parietonasal shield; a consolidated snout bearing large tubercles; a deeply excavated postorbital with a long and tubular ventral expansion; a squamosal with an anterior expansion for the jugal sensory canal). A cladistic analysis suggests that the new species is the fossil sister taxon to Latimeria, but this close relationship is weakly supported. Nevertheless, Wenzia latimerae belongs with confidence to the Latimeriidae. The new specimen also provides information on the structure of the calcified plates of the ossified swim bladder, as well as on the structure of the muscle fibres. Part of the diet of this marine coelacanth is known thanks to the presence of a small crustacean in its stomach contents.
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Vol. 25 • No. 3