Abstract

Articulated meraspid and holaspid exoskeletons of Guangxiaspis guangxiensis from the Guole Township, Jingxi County, Guangxi Province, China, are preserved in mudstone deposited during an obrution event. The species has a short dorsal pre-cranidial median suture that splits ventrally into a pair of posteriorly divergent connective sutures. The rostral plate of G. guangxiensis is thus triangular in outline, as in the co-occurrent Shergoldia laevigata, which also bore a conterminant hypostome. These two taxa appear to be closely related. The cephalic venter of Shergoldia laevigata has recently been interpreted to suggest a diphyletic origin of the median suture within the order Asaphida, but Guangxiaspis guangxiensis, Shergoldia laevigata and other tsinaniid trilobites display several characters reminiscent of members of the non-asaphide suborder Leiostegiina. These include swellings adjacent to the margins of the L1 glabellar lobe, the shape and furrows of the glabella, a semi-circular pygidium with a long and thin axis, and macrospinous first opisthopleurae of the holaspid pygidium. Based on these characters and on other new information on the early ontogeny of other tsinaniids, all these taxa likely belong within Leiostegiina. This suggests that the median suture arose independently in corynexochide and asaphide trilobites. The degree of convergence between S. laevigata and members of the derived asaphide family Asaphidae was remarkable. Guangxiaspis guangxiensis shows marked morphological change during both meraspid and holaspid ontogeny and might include more than a single morphotype.

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