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Reichenbacher, Bettina and Bannikov, Alexander F. (2021): Diversity of gobioid fishes in the late middle Miocene of northern Moldova, Eastern Paratethys - part I: an extinct clade of Lesueurigobius look-alikes. In: Palz, Vol. 96, No. 1: pp. 67-112

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Studies of otoliths suggest that Gobioidei, which are among the most species-rich groups of modern-day vertebrates, were prominent elements of late middle Miocene (early Sarmatian sensu lato) fish faunas in Europe and Western Asia. However, few complete skeletons have come to light. Here, we report an assemblage of six marine gobiid species, based on skeletons preserved with otoliths in situ, from the lower Volhynian (lower Sarmatian s.l.) of Karpov Yar, Naslavcea, northern Moldova (Eastern Paratethys). Previously only one of these species had been reported from the Central Paratethys, based on its otoliths alone. Five new species representing four new genera are described: dagger Katyagobius prikryli gen. et sp. nov., Pseudolesueurigobius manfredi gen. et sp. nov., dagger Sarmatigobius compactus gen. et sp. nov., dagger Yarigobius decoratus gen. et sp. nov., and dagger Y. naslavcensis gen. et sp. nov. All six species share the following set of characters, suggesting that they represent a monophyletic clade: 27-29 vertebrae (of which 10 are abdominal);spines of first dorsal fin distally filamentous;second dorsal fin with spine and 14-16 soft rays;anal fin with spine and 13-15 soft rays;caudal fin longish-to-lanceolate;otoliths (sagittae) with rounded, trapezoid-to-squarish shape. Their skeletal features suggest that they are closely related to Lesueurigobius Whitley, 1950, but the otoliths preserved in situ do not support such a classification. The new fossils most likely represent a stem lineage of the European Aphia lineage, and indicate that the diversity of gobiid lineages 12 million years ago differed clearly from that observed today.

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