Gavinaspis convergens, a new genus and species of the Phyllolepida (Placodermi: Arthrodira), is described on the basis of skull remains from the Late Lochkovian (Xitun Formation, Early Devonian) of Qujing (Yunnan, South China). This new form displays a mosaic of characters of basal actinolepidoid arthrodires and more derived phyllolepids. A new hypothesis is proposed concerning the origin of the unpaired centronuchal plate of the Phyllolepida by a fusion of the paired central plates into one single dermal element and the loss of the nuchal plate. A phylogenetic analysis suggests the position of Gavinaspis gen. nov. as the sister group of the Phyllolepididae, in a distinct new family (Gavinaspididae fam. nov.). This new form suggests a possible Chinese origin for the Phyllolepida or that the common ancestor to Phyllolepida lived in an area including both South China and Gondwana, and in any case corroborates the palaeogeographic proximity between Australia and South China during the Devonian Period.