Abstract

A large number of well-preserved immature exoskeletons enable the first detailed quantitative description of the ontogeny of the trinucleid Marrolithus bureaui (Oehlert, 1895) from the Lower Caradoc of the Armorican Massif (Armorica, northwest France). For the accurate description of cephalic features, a landmark-based approach was adopted in order to recognize ontogenetic instars and to establish the patterns of size increase and shape change during ontogenetic development. The quantitative analysis permitted the demonstration of a progressive shape change in agreement with ontogenetic ordination and a comparison of the timing of size and shape changes. Changes that took place during the meraspid period included, in particular, the development of a more pronounced sub-quadrangular cephalic outline, a compression (sag.) of the glabella and a size decrease until disappearance of the alae in late stages. This quantitative ontogenetic reconstitution of Marrolithus bureaui might be considered as a reference for the better understanding of phylogenetic affinities between other trinucleid species.

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