The Upper Cretaceous (Cenomanian) limestone quarry of Haqel, Lebanon, is home to one of the largest diversities of fossil actinopterygians in the Mesozoic, particularly of pycnodontiform fishes. Here, we describe a pycnodontiform fish, Flagellipinna rhomboides, gen. et sp. nov., from this locality based on four specimens. It is considered a member of the derived family Pycnodontidae due to the presence of a postparietal process. This taxon is distinct from other pycnodontids due to its diamond-shaped body, whip-like dorsal fin, postcloacal scales with forward-pointing spines, and acute anterior profile with a concave slope, giving it a ‘hunchback’ appearance. The prognathous snout armed with molariform teeth suggests that this pycnodont preyed on a variety of shelled animals from crevices. The smallest specimen is distinct in that it has a larger orbit size, no spines on the contour scales, poorly ossified skull roof bones, a notochord partially covered by arcocentra, and lacks whip-like filament on the dorsal fin, which suggest that it is a juvenile/subadult. The differences between the juvenile/subadult and other larger specimens suggest a change in ecological niche occupation during ontogeny, going from a generalized forager that lived in complex, reef habitats to moving into deeper waters to feed from crevices on the reef edge. These findings provide a more complete picture of the possible life history strategies that pycnodontiforms may have used in order to exploit different resources throughout their lives.
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Vol. 39 • No. 2