Abstract

Gypidula was a common pentameride brachiopod in the Silurian and Devonian periods and its oldest-known form, Gypidula akimiskiformis new species, occurs as a common component of a distinct Gypidula Association of the rich and diverse reef-dwelling brachiopod fauna in the Lower Silurian (upper Telychian) Attawapiskat Formation of the Hudson Bay Basin. This pioneer species has a high degree of morphological plasticity, with several infraspecific variations significant for the study of gypiduloid taxonomy and early evolution: 1) the sparsely costate shells may have strong to faint medial ribs, with some shells being quasi-smooth and 2) the inner hinge plates are commonly basomedially inclined toward the dorsal valve floor (not united to form a cruralium), but may also be subparallel or slightly basolaterally divergent toward the valve floor (similar to those in Clorinda). This implies that the basomedially inclined inner hinge plates were not a stable character at the initial stage of evolution of Gypidula during the late Telychian. Another gypiduloid from the Attawapiskat Formation, Erilevigatella euthylomata new genus and species, is characterized by a shell lacking fold or sulcus but having Clorinda-type, basolaterally divergent inner hinge plates and double-flanged crura. Compared to Levigatella, which has been regarded as an intermediate between Clorinda and Gypidula because of its Gypidula-type dorsal sulcus and Clorinda-type inner hinge plates, the rectimarginate shells of Erilevigatella make the distinction between Clorinda and Gypidula even more blurred at the early stage of their evolution.

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