Schizocrania (Brachiopoda, Discinoidea): taxonomy, occurrence, ecology and history of the earliest epizoan lingulate brachiopod

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The lingulate brachiopod Schizocrania (Trematidae, Discinoidea) is reviewed. Ptychopeltis is definitively synonymized with Schizocrania, because new data indicate that convexity of the shell, profile of the anterior margin commissure, density of the dorsal valve costellation, ornamentation of the ventral valve and shape of the pedicle notch are worthless for separation of these genera. Four Ordovician species of Schizocrania are reported from the Barrandian area: S. multistriata (Darriwilian), S. hornyi (Sandbian), S. incola (Sandbian) and the new species S. equestra sp. nov. (Katian). Occurrence of Schizocrania striata is confirmed for the first time around the S/D boundary in the Barrandian area. Schizocrania has a wide geographic range with mid-Ordovician to early Devonian occurrences in Laurentia, Avalonia, West Gondwana and the Silurian occurrence in Baltica. Schizocrania was the earliest lingulate brachiopod adhering to floating objects in an open sea (both living cephalopods and their empty drifting shells), but it was highly opportunistic, and used any vacant hard surface on the sea floor (conulariids, strophomenid brachiopods, trilobites) as a suitable substrate for settlement of the larva. Decline of the genus coincided with disappearance of planktic graptolites, and might have been caused by competition of rapidly evolving planktic dacryoconarids, increased predation pressure, and rebuilding of the trophic structure in the early Devonian seas.

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