Study of the shell features of Givetian and Frasnian spiriferid brachiopods attributed to the genus Cyrtospirifer shows that the type species C. verneuili has micro-ornament consisting of fine concentric growth lines, radial capillae, with microspines arising from some capillae, spine bases appear to extend into the primary shell layer. Its dorsal interior features a pseudoseptum supporting the cardinalia. Micro-ornament of Cyrtospirifer varies widely and is a useful criterion for characterization of species of the genus. Most Frasnian species retained in the genus have micropustulate shells. Two late Givetian and Frasnian phylogenetic species groups of Cyrtospirifer are recognized based on similarities of shell form and external and internal shell features. Species of the verneuili-syringothyriformis group have transverse alate shells, and are the most abundant and widespread group in Frasnian deposits worldwide. The verneuiliformis group includes the oldest known species of Cyrtospirifer with narrow hinges and more inflated ventral valves where shell width is close to or equal to length. The oldest Cyrtospirifer originated in western Europe during the late Givetian, and subsequently migrated at different times during the Frasnian into other shelf areas of Eurasia, North America and China. The initial migration of Cyrtospirifer into tropical and subtropical shelf settings in North America coincided with the middle Frasnian eustatic sea level rise of Devonian Transgressive-Regressive (T-R) cycle IIc of Johnson and others. A second late Frasnian dispersal from western Canada to subtropical carbonate and clastic shelves in the southwestern and central U.S. coincided with the initial sea level rise of T-R cycle IId of Johnson and others. The Frasnian species Cyrtospirifer glaucusCrickmay, 1952a (middle Frasnian of western Canada) is the type species for RegeliaCrickmay, 1952b, and is considered a valid genus, and is not a synonym of C. chemungensis (Conrad, 1842) as previously interpreted by some authors. Regelia differs from Cyrtospirifer in the absence of a delthyrial plate, complete in-filling of the delthyrial cavity by secondary shell material, its simpler rod-like teeth, and its fewer medial sinal shell plications. Species of Regelia are restricted to the middle to late Frasnian of North America.

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