Evolutionary significance of a middle Cambrian (Series 3) in situ occurrence of the pedunculate rhynchonelliform brachiopod Nisusia sulcata

Lars E. Holmer*, Leonid E. Popov, Mansoureh Ghobadi Pour, Tom Claybourn, Zhiliang Zhang, Glenn A. Brock, Zhifei Zhang

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

3 Citations (Scopus)


Exceptionally preserved, silicified and articulated complete shells of the rhynchonelliform kutorginate brachiopod Nisusia sulcata are redescribed from the middle Cambrian (Series 3) Marjum Limestone, Utah. Cylindroid sausage-like protrusions, emerging posteriorly between the valves, were originally interpreted as faecal in origin, but restudy under the SEM shows that these features represent silicified pedicles as they are attached in situ to other Nisusia. The Nisusia host most likely was alive at the time of attachment. Restudy of the pedicles of Nisusia provides new phylogenetic information on the anatomy of the earliest rhynchonelliforms. The silicified pedicles differ considerably from the pedicles of living crown group rhynchonelliforms in being strongly annulated, distally tapering, and were likely to have been rather more flexible. The Nisusia pedicles are more similar to the exceptionally preserved pedicles from other Cambrian rhynchonelliform brachiopods, including Kutorgina, Longtancunella and Alisina, but these emerge from the ventral apical foramen rather than from between the valves as in Nisusia. Although generally similar, these two types of pedicles are unlikely to represent homologous structures as Nisusia is provided with both an apical foramen (possibly larval attachment) and a posterior adult pedicle. The similarities may be explained by similar type of accretionary growth from two different types of epithelia. The Nisusia-like pedicle appeared early within the kutorginates and rhynchonellates. The discovery of hollow spines in Nisusia sulcata further supports the generic assignation of the species.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)424-432
Number of pages9
Issue number3
Early online date9 Jan 2018
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2018


  • Nisusia
  • Brachiopoda
  • Cambrian
  • Kutorginata
  • Pedicle
  • Rhynchonelliformea

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Evolutionary significance of a middle Cambrian (Series 3) in situ occurrence of the pedunculate rhynchonelliform brachiopod Nisusia sulcata'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this