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A new species of the asteroid genus Betelgeusia (Echinodermata) from methane seep settings, Late Cretaceous of South Dakota

  • Daniel B. Blake (a1), William K. Halligan (a2) and Neal L. Larson (a3)

Betelgeusia brezinai new species (Radiasteridae, Paxillosida, Asteroidea) is described from diversely fossiliferous Upper Cretaceous methane seep deposits of South Dakota. Asteroids are rare at modern chemosynthetic settings, although a hydrothermal vent occurrence is known, and two possible fossil methane seep occurrences have been reported. The Radiasteridae is important to the interpretation of crown-group asteroid phylogeny. Two extant genera are assigned to the family: Radiaster is known from relatively few but geographically widely dispersed largely deeper-water settings, and Gephyreaster is uncommon over a range of depths in the North Pacific Ocean. Jurassic and Cretaceous radiasterids have been described from geographically widely separated localities. In morphological-based phylogenetic analyses, the Radiasteridae has been assigned to the order Paxillosida, and Gephyreaster is similarly placed in a molecular evaluation; Radiaster has not yet been treated in a molecular study. In molecular treatment, an approximately traditional Paxillosida is a sister taxon to a significant part of the traditional Valvatida. Comparative morphology of Mesozoic and extant asteroids enables a hypothesis for a stemward, Mesozoic paxillosidan.

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