Diversity and Life Habits of Silurian Strophomenide Brachiopods of Gotland

University dissertation from Uppsala : Institutionen för geovetenskaper

Abstract: The Superfamily Strophomenoidea is a very diverse group of brachiopods in the Early Palaeozoic. In the Silurian succession on Gotland, they are among the most easily identifiable, and commonly found fossils. However, there are few detailed studies of this group from Gotland, and no new strophomenide taxa have been described from this area since 1869. The life habits of strophomenides are also poorly understood, partly because their morphology differs greatly from that of living brachiopods. The succession on Gotland yielded 27 species belonging to the Strophomenoidea, of which two species and two subspecies are new. The remaining species have been described earlier from Gotland or Great Britain. The most important group is the Leptaeninae, which occurs commonly throughout the entire succession on Gotland. Five species (one new), two new subspecies and two taxa treated under open nomenclature were found. Leptaena rhomboidalis and Lepidoleptaena poulseni were specialized for life in shallow water environments, retaining a large apical pedicle; the remaining leptaenines were ambitopic. The Furcitellininae is represented by three genera comprising six species, of which only one persisted into the Ludlow. All were ambitopic, except Pentlandina loveni, which was specialized for high-energy environments. Six species of “strophodontids” from Gotland, belonging to the Leptostrophidae, the Strophodontidae and the Shaleriidae, share a shallow-bodied, variably concavo-convex shell with costellate ornament. Mesoleptostrophia and Brachyprion (Brachyprion) were long-ranged and ecologically tolerant, while B. (Erinostrophia), Strophodonta and Shaleria had short ranges and were ecologically specialized. The two earliest known cementing strophomenides occur on Gotland, and their hitherto unknown dorsal valves have been identified: Liljevallia was found to belong to the Douvillinidae. The cementing Leptaenoidea silurica was found to be conspecific with the ambitopic Scamnomena rugata; it was able to live ambitopically if removed from the substrate. The thickened dorsal valves allow reconstruction of its lophophore.