Brachiopods from the lower Tonggao Formation (Floian, late Early Ordovician) of Sandu, southeastern Guizhou Province, represent a deep-water benthic shelly fauna from the Jiangnan Slope facies of the South China paleoplate. The fauna contains 16 brachiopod taxa, with orthides, lingulates, and pentamerides being the common groups. Concurrent graptolites confine the brachiopod fauna to the Tetragraptus approximatus and the Acrograptus filiformis biozones (early Floian). The first appearance datum (FAD) of several brachiopod genera, such as Paralenorthis, Protoskenidioides, and Nereidella, in the Sandu slope facies is one or two graptolitic biozones lower than their FAD in shallower water facies on the Yangtze Platform. Later in the late Floian, these genera became major components of the Sinorthis fauna that flourished over much of the Yangtze Platform, suggesting a migration of the benthic shelly fauna from slope to platform facies during the Floian radiation in South China. Compared to the platform fauna, the deep-water brachiopod fauna of the Sandu area has a lower level of richness, diversity, and community organization. Three brachiopod associations are recognized: the ParalenorthisNereidella, the Palaeoglossa longa, and the Lingulella–Protoskenidioides associations. An upsection decrease in shell size, faunal richness, and species diversity in the Tonggao Formation indicate a deteriorating environment towards hypersalinity in the Sandu area, resulting in the ultimate disappearance of the deep-water brachiopod fauna.

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