Article: A new species of the catfish Nigerium from the Palaeogene of the Tilemsi Valley, Republic of Mali
The phosphate deposits of the Tilemsi Valley, Republic of Mali, West Africa, are well known for their rich fossil vertebrate fauna including fishes, crocodilians, snakes and mammals. Despite this, the exact age of the deposits has been in some doubt. Here, a new species of catfish, Nigerium tamaguelense sp. nov., is described from the phosphate deposits at Tamaguélelt, Tilemsi Valley, based on a large collection of 29 well-preserved crania. The crania are compared with the known species of Nigerium, N. wurnoense White and N. gadense White. The genus Nigerium is reviewed and now placed in the family Claroteidae based on a combination of three derived characters. Nigerium is compared with other African fossil catfish genera and the fossil record of catfish families in Africa is reviewed. The new evidence presented here shows the Claroteidae to be the earliest occurring catfish family in Africa. Evidence is also presented for an Early Eocene age for the phosphate deposits at Tamaguélelt.