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Temporal range: Upper Mississippian, 318.1–328.3 Ma
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Chondrichthyes
Subclass: Holocephali
Order: Chimaeriformes
Family: Echinochimaeridae
Genus: Echinochimaera
Lund, 1977[1]

Echinochimaera meltoni[2]Echinochimaera snyderi[2]

Echinochimaera is an extinct genus of fish, it was assigned to the order chimaera by Jack Sepkoski in 2002.[1] The genus' name derives from the Greek εχινό (echino) meaning spiny, and chimaera.


The two known Echinochimaera species lived in the Upper Mississippian (Serpukhovian).[3] Fossils of the species were found in the Bear Gulch Limestone in Montana, United States.

Both species have rounded bodies and paddle-like tails as well as large pectoral fins, two dorsal fins and a jaw fused to the braincase.[4] The paddle-like tails indicate that E. meltoni was likely not a predator nor a fast swimmer.[5][6]

Echinochimaera meltoni[edit]

E. meltoni was first described by Richard Lund, an Adelphi University palaeontologist,[7] in 1977.[1][3] The fossils found of E. meltoni have shown a great deal of sexual dimorphism, males being found to have a maximum 150mm body length while the maximum body length found in females was only 70mm (juveniles were 13-20mm). In general, the females only grew to about half the size of the males.[5] Males also had four pairs of spikes which may have been used to defend against predators and to identify the fish as male.[6]

There was a relative abundance of immature male fossils found, and that together with the significant sexual dimorphism indicate there was extreme sexual selection among the species.[5]

Echinochimaera snyderi[edit]

E. snyderi was described, like E. meltoni, by Richard Lund. It was described in 1988 based on juvenile specimens, all with a body length under 90mm. E. snyderi differs from E. meltoni in fin detail as well as jaw shape and teeth near the front edge of the face rather than a tooth plate, in mature specimens later found its mature size was found to be larger than E. meltoni.[8]


  1. ^ a b c "The Paleobiology Database". Retrieved 2009-09-25. 
  2. ^ a b "The Taxonomican: Genus Echinochimaera". Retrieved 2009-09-25. 
  3. ^ a b "University of Montana Paleontology Center". 2007-11-01. Retrieved 2009-09-26. 
  4. ^ "Search for Ancient Sharks". Discovery Education. Retrieved 2009-10-11. 
  5. ^ a b c Lund, Richard (1990). "Chondrichthyan life history styles as revealed by the 320 million years old Mississippian of Montana". Environmental Biology of Fishes. Springer Netherlands. 27 (1): 1–19. doi:10.1007/BF00004900. ISSN 1573-5133. Retrieved 26-09-09.  Check date values in: |access-date= (help)
  6. ^ a b "Fossil Fishes of Bear Gulch - Echinochimaera meltoni". 2006-02-01. Archived from the original on 2012-02-12. Retrieved 2015-12-09. 
  7. ^ "Bear Gulch - About Richard Lund". 2006-11-16. Retrieved 2009-09-27. 
  8. ^ "Fossil Fishes of Bear Gulch - Echinochimaera snyderi". Retrieved 2009-09-26.