Abstract

Reexamination of type and topotype material revealed the presence of well-developed ventral and dorsal interareas in two virgianid brachiopods from South China, Eoconchidium jiangshanensis Liang (inLiu et al., 1983) and Paraconchidium shiqianensisRong, Xu, and Yang, 1974, of Late Ordovician and Early Silurian ages, respectively. A cladistic analysis of the common virgianid taxa, incorporating new data on the development of interareas, confirms ParaconchidiumRong, Xu, and Yang, 1974 as a valid genus (not a junior synonym of PseudoconchidiumNikiforova and Sapelnikov, 1971) and warrants E. jiangshanensis as the type species of Deloprosopus new genus (not allied to either Eoconchidium or Tcherskidium as previously believed). Our preliminary survey on the suborder Pentameridina, based on available material or illustrations of well-preserved, disarticulated (typically silicified) valves, indicates that 1) the interareas are more commonly developed in the superfamily Pentameroidea than was reported previously, especially in the families Virgianidae and Subrianidae; 2) the ventral and dorsal interareas commonly do not occur as paired planar surfaces in the Pentameroidea, as they do in the superfamily Stricklandioidea; and 3) despite the common absence of a ventral interarea, the development of a sharply delimited dorsal interarea appears to be ubiquitous in the Pentameroidea and possibly in the suborder Pentameridina. In the currently adopted classification, the presence of matching ventral and dorsal interareas is treated as one of the diagnostic characters that separate Stricklandioidea from other superfamilies of the Pentameridina. The new data presented herein on the development of interareas imply the need to reevaluate the taxonomic and evolutionary significance of the ventral and dorsal interareas, pending a thorough survey on their distribution in the suborder Pentameridina.

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