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Superregnum : Eukaryota
Cladus: Unikonta
Cladus: Opisthokonta
Cladus: Holozoa
Regnum: Animalia
Subregnum: Eumetazoa
Cladus: Bilateria
Cladus: Nephrozoa
Superphylum: Deuterostomia
Phylum: Chordata
Subphylum: Vertebrata
Infraphylum: Gnathostomata
Megaclassis: Osteichthyes
Superclassis/Classis: Actinopterygii
Classis/Subclassis: Actinopteri
Subclassis/Infraclassis: Neopterygii
Infraclassis: Teleostei
Megacohors: Osteoglossocephalai
Supercohors: Clupeocephala
Cohors: Otomorpha
Subcohors: Clupei
Superordo: Clupeomorpha
Ordo: Clupeiformes
Subordo: Clupeoidei

Familia: Clupeidae
Subfamilia: Pellonulinae
Genus: †Knightia
Species (8): K. alta – K. bohaiensis – K. eocaena – K. humulus – K. irregularis – K. vetusta – ?K. branneri – ?K. yuyanga

Knightia Jordan, 1907

De Figueiredo, F.J. 2010: Morphological and systematic reassessment of †Knightia brasiliensis Woodward, 1939 (Teleostei: Clupeiformes) from the Pliocene of Parnaíba Basin, northeastern Brazil. Zootaxa, 2440: 1–17. Preview
Grande, L. 1982: A revision of the fossil genus †Knightia, with a description of a new genus from the Green River Formation (Teleostei, Clupeidae). American Museum novitates, (2731) handle
Jordan, D. S. 1907. "The fossil fishes of California; with supplementary notes on other species of extinct fishes". Bulletin Department of Geology, University of California 5:95-145.
Maisey, J. G. & Chang, M.-M. 2003. "Redescription of †Ellimma branneri and †Diplomystus shengliensis, and Relationships of Some Basal Clupeomorphs". American Museum novitates 3404. [1]


Nomenclator Zoologicus

Knightia is an extinct genus of clupeid bony fish that lived in the freshwater lakes and rivers of North America and Asia during the Eocene epoch. The genus was erected by David Starr Jordan in 1907, in honor of the late University of Wyoming professor Wilbur Clinton Knight, "an indefatigable student of the paleontology of the Rocky Mountains."[1] It is the official state fossil of Wyoming,[2] and the most commonly excavated fossil fish in the world.[3]

Knightia belongs to the same taxonomic family as herring and sardines, and resembled the former closely enough that both Knightia alta and Knightia eocaena were originally described as species of true herring in the genus Clupea.

As with modern-day clupeids, Knightia spp. likely fed on algae and diatoms, as well as insects and occasionally smaller fish.[4]


In Knightia fish, rows of dorsal and ventral scutes run from the back of the head to the medial fins. They had heavy scales and small conical teeth. Their size varied by species: Knightia eocaena was the longest, growing up to 25 cm (10 in), though most specimens are no larger than 15 cm.[5] K. alta was shorter and relatively wider, with specimens averaging between 6 and 10 cm.[5]

A small schooling fish, Knightia made an abundant food source for larger Eocene predators. The Green River Formation has yielded many fossils of larger fish species preying on Knightia; specimens of Diplomystus, Lepisosteus, Amphiplaga, Mioplosus, Phareodus, Amia, and Astephus have all been found with Knightia in either their jaws or stomachs.[4]


Jordan, D. S. 1907. "The fossil fishes of California; with supplementary notes on other species of extinct fishes". Bulletin Department of Geology, University of California 5:136
"Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2011-09-06. Retrieved 2011-01-22.
Kelley, Patricia H.; Kowalewski, Michał; Hansen, Thor A. (2003). Predator-prey interactions in the fossil record. ISBN 0-306-47489-1.
Grande, L. 1980. The paleontology of the Green River Formation, with a review of the fish fauna. Wyoming Geol. Surv., Bull. 63, pp. 85.

Grande, Lance (June 7, 1982). "A Revision of the Fossil Genus †Knightia, With a Description of a New Genus From the Green River Formation (Teleostei, Clupeidae)" (PDF). American Museum Novitates. ISSN 0003-0082. OCLC 47720325. Archived from the original (PDF) on October 20, 2013. Retrieved November 12, 2011.

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