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Early Ordovician rhynchonelliformean brachiopod biodiversity: comparing some platforms, margins and intra-oceanic sites around the Iapetus Ocean

David A. T. Harper
David A. T. Harper
Geological Museum, Øster Voldgade 5–7, DK-1350 Copenhagen, Denmark (e-mail:
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Conall Mac Niocaill
Conall Mac Niocaill
Department of Earth Sciences, University of Oxford, Parks Road, Oxford, UK (e-mail:
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January 01, 2002


During the Arenig-Llanvirn interval a series of radiations across all the major clades, established the Brachiopoda as a major component of the Palaeozoic benthos. Radiations on Baltica and Laurentia during the Arenig formed the basis for two distinct biogeographical provinces with contrasting articulated brachiopod faunas. These platform provinces were supplemented by the marginal Celtic and Toquima-Head provinces; the latter included both marginal and intra-ocean island sites. These marginal and intra-oceanic sites may have served as both ‘cradles and museums’ alternately providing sources for radiations on the platforms and refugia for otherwise relict taxa. Such terranes also partitioned oceanic circulation patterns within the Iapetus Ocean and provided mosaics of rapidly changing, nearshore unstable environments. In contrast to later Ordovician brachiopod faunas, many early Ordovician genera are reported from only one or two sites in the Iapetus region; narrow geographical ranges are characteristic of many taxa. The strong biogeo-graphic differentiation at the generic level is less marked at the familial and higher levels suggesting a series of late Cambrian and early Ordovician migrations prior to the more regional development of the Arenig-Llanvirn brachiopod biofacies across the Iapetus terranes. However, the origination of many brachiopod taxa apparently occurred outside the Iapetus region suggesting that the initial stages of the Ordovician radiations here were first spiked by a series of immigrations.

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Geological Society, London, Special Publications

Palaeobiogeography and Biodiversity Change: the Ordovician and Mesozoic–Cenozoic Radiations

J. A. Crame
J. A. Crame
British Antarctic Survey, Cambridge, UK
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A. W. Owen
A. W. Owen
University of Glasgow, UK
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Geological Society of London
ISBN electronic:
Publication date:
January 01, 2002




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