Palaeobiogeography of the Ordovician trilobite prosopiscus, with a new species from western New South Wales

John R. Paterson*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)


Prosopiscus is particularly important in Ordovician palaeobiogeography because of its wide geographic distribution in Gondwana and peri-Gondwanan regions. It appears to have been confined to low palaeolatitudes, representing a characteristic member of the warm water eastern Gondwanan shelf faunas. Trends in the distribution of the Ordovician genus can be observed due to its long stratigraphic range. Prosopiscus was restricted to, and may have originated in, Australia during the late Early Ordovician (Bendigonian-Chewtonian). By the Middle Ordovician (Darriwilian), Prosopiscus had dispersed to other parts of Gondwana and peri-Gondwana, including the North and South China blocks, Tarim, central Himalayas, and the Argentine Precordillera (South America). Possible explanations for the distribution of Prosopiscus are that: (1) there were no oceanic barriers preventing dispersal of trilobites between difficrent regions of Gondwana, thus permitting uninhibited migration over vast distances; (2) Prosopiscus was not restricted to a specific biofacies; (3) a major eustatic transgression during the early Darriwilian may have facilitated the dispersal of Prosopiscus in allowing further development and expansion of marine environments; and (4) a prolonged planktonic larval stage may have permitted wide dispersal. Prosopiscus lauriei sp. nov. is described from the late Early Ordovician (Bendigonian-Chewtonian) Tabita Formation at Mount Arrowsmith, northwestern New South Wales, Australia. The new species is closely related to P. praecox, from the Nora Formation, Georgina Basin, central Australia, and to P. magicus from northwest China.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)65-76
Number of pages12
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2004


  • Australia
  • Gondwana
  • New South Wales
  • Ordovician
  • Palaeobiogeography
  • Palaeogeography
  • Prosopiscus
  • Trilobita


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