A new species of the enigmatic shark genus Nanocetorhinus (Chondrichthyes) from the Oligocene of Austria with palaeoceanographic implications

Iris Feichtinger 1 , Jürgen Pollerspöck 2 , and Mathias Harzhauser 1
  • 1 Geological-Palaeontological Department, Natural History Museum, , Burgring 7, 1010, Vienna, Austria
  • 2 Bavarian State Collection of Zoology, , Münchhausenstraße 21, 81247, Munich, Germany


Deep-neritic sediments of the Eferding Formation (Egerian, Upper Oligocene) of Upper Austria from the Kamig kaolinite quarry revealed minute teeth of the putatively planktivorous shark genus Nanocetorhinus. This is the oldest unambiguous record of this rarely documented genus, which was known so far only from Miocene deposits of Europe, North America and Japan. Based on previous studies, which showed a positive correlation between sediments of nutrient rich waters and plankton blooms with a majority of ichthyoliths of Keasius and Nanocetorhinus, we argue for a filter-feeding and migratory lifestyle of the latter. Thus, it is supposed that Nanocetorhinus migrated seasonally for foraging, in a similar way to the extant basking shark Cetorhinus maximus. This mode of life and the wide paleogeographic distribution of the open marine genus Nanocetorhinus requires a deep and fully marine connection between the Paratethys and the Proto-Mediterranean Sea during late Oligocene times, which might have been established via the Slovenian Corridor.

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