Abstract

The development of the trilobite pygidium involves both an articulation process at the frontal part and the formation of new segments at the rear end, and hence the development of the meraspid pygidium entails complicated morphological changes. This study deals with the ontogeny of the Furongian (late Cambrian) ptychaspidid trilobite, Quadraticephalus elongatus (Kobayashi, 1935), from the Hwajeol Formation of the Taebaek Group, Taebaeksan Basin, Korea, with a special focus on the segmentation process during the meraspid pygidial development. Compared to the ontogeny of a ptychaspidid trilobite, Asioptychaspis subglobosa (Sun, 1924), which is assumed to be an ancestral species of Q. elongatus, the convexity of the cranidium of Q. elongatus increased in a slower rate; the yoked free cheek of Q. elongatus splits to form a ventral median suture in a later developmental stage; and, a rim-like ridge, which disappeared in the early holaspid pygidium of A. subglobosa, was maintained in the late holaspid period of Q. elongatus. These morphological changes with growth imply that paedomorphosis was involved in the evolution of Q. elongatus. Eleven stages are recognized for the meraspid pygidial development, which began with an accumulation phase during which the number of segments increased from three to seven, followed by an equilibrium phase with seven segments, and ended up with a depletion phase during which the number of segments within the pygidium decreased to four. During the depletion phase, the pygidial length did not increase or even slightly decreased. The onset of the epimorphic phase, in which the total number of trunk segments does not increase anymore, precedes the onset of the holaspid period, demonstrating that the developmental mode of Q. elongatus is protomeric.

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