Ordovician and Silurian polychaete diversity and biogeography

Mats E. Eriksson*, Olle Hints, Hannelore Paxton, Petra Tonarová

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

20 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Eunicidan polychaetes formed a significant part of Early Palaeozoic marine invertebrate communities, as shown by the abundance and diversity of scolecodonts (polychaete jaws) in the fossil record. In this study we summarize the early radiation and biodiversity trends and discuss the palaeobiogeography of these fossils. The oldest (latest Cambrian-Early Ordovician) representatives had primitive, usually symmetrical, placognath/ctenognath type jaw apparatuses. The first more advanced taxa, possessing labidognath-type jaw apparatuses or placognath apparatuses with compound maxillae, are first recorded in the Middle Ordovician. The most significant increase in generic diversity occurred in the Darriwilian, when many common taxa appeared and diversified. The Ordovician and Silurian scolecodont occurrences allow some palaeobiogeographical units and distribution patterns to be explored and outlined. The most robust data presently at hand derive from successions in Baltica and Laurentia. That information, together with new records from other palaeocontinents, reveals a wide distribution for the most frequent and species-rich genera and families, similar to the biogeographical patterns of extant polychaetes. Like many other benthic and pelagic fossil groups, scolecodont-bearing polychaetes show an increased cosmopolitan character in the Silurian as compared with the Ordovician. Species-level endemism appears to be relatively common, inferring a potential for scolecodonts as biogeographical tools in the future.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationEarly Palaeozoic Biogeography and Palaeogeography
EditorsD. A. T. Harper, Thomas Servais
Place of PublicationLondon, UK
PublisherGeological Society of London
Pages265-272
Number of pages8
Volume38
Edition1st
ISBN (Print)9781862393738
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2013

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