Neural crest cells disperse throughout the embryonic head to generate diverse cell types of two classes: non-ectomesenchymal (including melanocytes, peripheral neurons and glia) and ectomesenchymal (skeletogenic, odontogenic, cartilaginous and connective tissue cell fates). In contrast to cranial neural crest, trunk neural crest of amniotes generates only non-ectomesenchymal cell types. Anamniote trunk neural crest, however, has been assumed to generate derivatives of both classes, including osteoblasts of dermal skeletal elements, which includes scales and fin rays. Through genetic lineage tracing in zebrafish, we present the first test of this assumption and find that trunk neural crest does not generate fin osteoblasts; rather, these derive from a late emerging population of paraxial mesoderm. Similarly we show that the mineralising cells of the scales are mesodermally derived, with no contribution from neural crest. Our data suggest that trunk/tail exoskeletal structures evolved through deployment of mesodermally derived mesenchyme, rather than neural crest.