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Fossil megaspore floras from the Late Cretaceous of North America have been studied extensively, but primarily from the Western Interior Basin. Two new megaspore floras are described from eastern North America along the Gulf Coastal Plain. Cumulatively, 10 genera and 16 species of megaspores are recognized from Allon, Georgia and along Upatoi Creek, Georgia (both late Santonian in age, ∼84 Ma). Megaspores identified have affinities to both heterosporous lycopsids, e.g., Erlansonisporites, Minerisporites, and Paxillitriletes, and to heterosporous ferns, e.g., Ariadnaesporites, and Molaspora. Lycopsid megaspores are more diverse than fern megaspores in the Allon and the Upatoi Creek floras. Two new species—Erlansonisporites confundus n. sp. and Erlansonisporites potens n. sp.—are proposed.
The new nuculid bivalve Trigonucula (Gonionucula) aciloides new subgenus and species from the upper Triassic Nayband Formation of Central Iran is described. Gonionucula differs from Trigonucula s.s. by the presence of oblique ribs, which either deviate from a concentric pattern at the anterior shell part, or, as in the newly described type species, consist of a complex pattern of chevron-like ribs on the central part of the flank, plus an additional set of opisthocline to more or less acline ribs on posterior part of the flank. The oblique ribs of Gonionucula probably aided energy-efficient burrowing, which was advantageous in competing for food resources with less efficiently burrowing detritus feeders. The number of burrowing bivalve species with oblique ribs generally rose towards the end of the Triassic, which probably reflects increasing competition at a time when most niches were re-occupied after the end-Permian mass extinction event. The fact that oblique ribs were rare in Paleozoic bivalves suggests that the level of competition was higher in post-Paleozoic biota, which is in accordance with a general increase in metabolic rates, predation pressure, and ecospace occupation in the course of the Mesozoic.
Cassianastraea is an enigmatic colonial Triassic cnidarian first described as a coral but subsequently referred to the Hydrozoa. We report here the first occurrence in Canada of fossils we designate as Cassianastraea sp. from the Williston Lake region of British Columbia. The specimens come from older collections of the Geological Survey of Canada, collected in Upper Triassic (Carnian) strata assigned to either the Ludington or Baldonnel Formations. While well known in reef associations of the former Tethys region, Cassianiastraea is relatively rare in North America. The Carnian Baldonnel Formation contains the earliest coral reefs from the North American craton and we suspect that Cassianastraea sp. also came from this reef association.
Recent cladistic analyses have all suggested a diapsid origin of ichthyosaurs. However, an intermediate evolutionary stage of the lower temporal region of ichthyosaurian skull between basal diapsids and derived ichthyosaurs has been absent from the fossil record. Here we describe the cranial skeleton of a new mixosaurid ichthyosaur specimen with a well-preserved lower temporal region from the Anisian Guanling Formation of eastern Yunnan. It is characterized by the most primitive lower temporal region within known ichthyosaurs. The primitive characters of the lower temporal region include both external and internal separation between the jugal and the quadratojugal, an anterior process of the quadratojugal, an apparent posteroventral process of the jugal, and a large lower temporal opening surrounded by the jugal, the postorbital, the squamosal, and the quadratojugal. The lower temporal region of this specimen provides the most direct evidence to the diapsid origin of ichthyosaurs. It also suggests that the disappearance of the lower temporal fenestra is caused initially by the reduction of the lower temporal arcade rather than the enlargement of the surrounding bones.
Tubular specimens belonging to Hyolithellus from silty dolostones of the basal Aftenstjernesø Formation of North Greenland may represent the first occurrence of this widespread Cambrian fossil in life position. A high proportion of preserved specimens are oriented normal to bedding with the tapering end of the tube down. Occasional undulations in the growth of the tubes indicate that the animal actively adjusted its growth to achieve a vertical orientation in relation to the sediment surface. Increasing thickness of the tube wall towards the tapering end shifted the center of mass downwards and resulted in greater stability in the sediment. The tube remained open at both ends throughout ontogeny; it was most likely secreted by an annelid-grade animal which pumped water into the sediment through the tube. Hyolithellus and similar tubular fossils from the Lower Cambrian probably represent stem group annelids.
Laocoetis piserai n. sp. (Hexactinellida, Porifera) from the mid-Cretaceous (i.e., Albian–Cenomanian) of James Ross Island is the first record of a fossil sponge from Antarctica. This new occurrence of a formerly widespread genus was restricted to relatively deep waters on the margins of an active volcanic arc. Its occurrence in Antarctica is further evidence that the genus Laocoetis underwent a dramatic reduction in its geographic range through the Cenozoic. The only living species of the genus at the present day is Laocoetis perion from Madagascar.
The majority of Changhsingian orthotetid brachiopod species from the Southern Alps were described by the end of the nineteenth century, but were then neglected by subsequent authors who proposed further new species, giving rise to great taxonomical confusion. An examination of type-specimens and newly collected material permits the consideration of Orthothetina ladina (Stache, 1878) and Ombonia tirolensis (Stache, 1878), type-species of Ombonia, as the only valid species and describe Teserina nerii as a new genus and species. The former two species are mostly located within a short stratigraphic interval, which is a few centimetres thick, limited by the trigger and peak of the end-Permian mass extinction. Teserina nerii n. gen. n. sp. occurs 2–3 m above the extinction peak and represents one of the last Permian rhynchonelliform brachiopod holdovers in the Southern Alps.
The South American giant short-faced bear (Arctotherium angustidensGervais and Ameghino, 1880) is one of five described Arctotherium species endemic to South America and it is known for being the earliest, largest, and most carnivorous member of the genus. Here we report an extraordinarily large A. angustidens individual exhumed from Ensenadan sediments (early to middle Pleistocene) at Buenos Aires Province, Argentina. Based on overall size, degree of epiphyseal fusion, and pathologies, this bear was an old-aged male that sustained serious injuries during life. Body mass of the bear is estimated and compared to other ursid species based on a series of allometric equations. To our knowledge, this specimen now represents the largest bear ever recorded. In light of this discovery, we discuss the evolution of body size in Arctotherium (from large-to-small) and compare this to bears that exhibited different evolutionary trajectories. We suggest that the larger size and more carnivorous nature of A. angustidens, compared to later members of the genus, may reflect the relative lack of other large carnivores and abundance of herbivores in South America just after the Great American Biotic Interchange.
Two arthropod specimens assigned to Anabarochilina australis (Hinz-Schallreuter, 1993) from the late middle Cambrian (Guzhangian Stage, Lejopyge acantha Biozone) Karsha Formation, Zanskar Valley, northern India comprise the first record of the Bradoriida from the Himalaya. These Indian specimens cannot be distinguished statistically from other A. australis material based on valve length and height ratios, and differ only slightly in other characters. These observations justify the synonymy of a number of similar forms worldwide that previously have been only questionably attributed to A. australis. The occurrence of the species in Australia, India, Laurentia, and Kazakhstan encompassed an equatorial distribution from approximately 20° north to 20° south during late middle Cambrian time and indicates that A. australis had the ability to disperse across deep ocean basins. Such a distribution is consistent with a planktonic lifestyle. In contrast, other congeneric species of Anabarochilina apparently had more localized occurrence or, in the case of A. primordialis, were distributed across several paleocontinents and climatic zones.
A new genus and species of synziphosurine (Chelicerata) is described from the Silurian (Wenlock) Scotch Grove Formation Konservat-Lagerstätte in Clinton County, Iowa. Camanchia grovensis n. gen. n. sp. is characterized by a sub-triangular carapace, ten opisthosomal segments divided into a preabdomen of seven and a postabdomen of three, and a tuberculate ornament on the carapace and pleural margins. A single new specimen from the same location is assigned to Venustulus waukeshaensis, originally described from the Late Llandovery Waukesha Konservat-Lagerstätte of Wisconsin. A comparison of the musculature of C. grovensis with that of living Limulus polyphemus and the Jurassic Mesolimulus walchi from Nusplingen, Germany shows that it is much simpler, consistent with the status of synziphosurines as stem xiphosurids.
A tuffaceous claystone sample collected from a seamount flank of the Mariana Trench's ocean-ward slope by the Japanese submersible “Shinkai 6500” yielded very well-preserved earliest Cretaceous radiolarians. Initial spicule-bearing spherical radiolarians assignable to the families Centrocubidae and probably Entactiniidae have been identified in this radiolarian fauna. Based on the initial spicule and the connecting arches, we describe one new genus, Marianasphaera, belonging to the family Centrocubidae and another new genus called Shinkaiera, which is questionably assigned to the family Entactiniidae. Three new species, Marianasphaera ogawai, M. multispinosa, and Shinkaiera fragilis, are also described. These radiolarians provide important data, filling the gap between Triassic and Cenozoic initial spicule-bearing spherical radiolarians.
A new species of Orthoptera, Parapleurites morrisonensis, is described from the upper Jurassic Morrison Formation of Colorado, USA. This is the first insect described from the Morrison Formation and the first orthopteran described from the Jurassic of North America. No other members of the family Locustopsidae have been described in North America previously, and the other species of Parapleurites are only known from Siberia. The lack of Jurassic Orthoptera in North America is likely due to a combination of taphonomic variables and collector bias. The discovery of Parapleurites morrisonensis and the potential for finding other Jurassic Orthoptera are important to understanding the evolution of this diverse and widely distributed group.
A complete molted exoskeleton of the asteropygine phacopid trilobite Greenops widderensisLieberman and Kloc, 1997 from the Middle Devonian (Givetian) Widder Formation in southwestern Ontario, Canada that has suffered predatory trauma provides insights into the sequence of regeneration of segments. The molt configuration is such that it is possible to interpret the molting technique used by the trilobite. Predatory trauma affected four areas of the exoskeleton. The pygidium shows loss of the spinose margin on one side and damage to a single spine on the other; one genal spine has been broken and partially regrown; and the posterior of the glabella has been removed. It is thought that the first three traumas occurred during life, as these areas affected show signs of exoskeletal regeneration. The fourth trauma probably occurred to the exuvium. Analysis of the degree of regeneration of the pygidial pleurae indicates that there was an anteroposterior polarity to the regeneration. Other examples in the literature suggest that this regeneration polarity pattern may have been widespread in trilobites. It is suggested that, as in modern arthropods and annelids, this sequential regeneration was under the control of segmentation polarity genes.
Thin beds of silty limestone within a Ludlovian (Ludfordian) section of the Cape Phillips Formation on Cornwallis Island, Arctic Canada, contain numerous specimens of noncalcified macroalgae in association with dendroid and graptoloid graptolites, brachiopods, and trilobites. The algal material, preserved as carbonaceous compressions, represents three new taxa, each characterized by a central axis surrounded by laterals. Laterals of Eocladus xiaoi n. gen. n. sp. are thin and branch to the fifth order whereas those of Chaetocladus captitatus n. sp. are undivided and form a distinctive capitulum. Thalli of Palaeocymopolia nunavutensis n. gen. n. sp. have a branched, serial-segmented form and a corticated structure. On the basis of thallus architecture, all three taxa are assigned to the extant green algal order Dasycladales. Parallels exist between this macroalgal assemblage and a modern macroalgal association in Florida Bay.
Eighteen taxa of linguliform brachiopods, mainly represented by acrotretoids, are reported from the Upper Cambrian (Furongian, Stage 10) and Lower Ordovician (Tremadocian) Tiñu Formation of Oaxaca State, Mexico. At the time of deposition, this area was part of Oaxaquia, which was either a microcontinent or an integral part of the Gondwanan margin. Whereas certain trilobites seem to indicate a Gondwanan affinity, the Tiñu brachiopod faunas show a less definite paleogeographic relationship. Some taxa have previously only been reported from Laurentia (Eurytreta cf. fillmorensis, Eurytreta cf. campaniformis), and one taxon is best known from the Avalon microcontinent (Eurytreta cf. sabrinae). However, the relatively high percentage of new and potentially endemic taxa (Oaxaquiatreta labrifera n. gen. n. sp., Tapuritreta reclinata n. sp., Oaxaquiatreta sp., Eurytreta? n. sp., Acrotretidae n. gen. n. sp., Obolinae gen. and sp. indet.) and the lack of other typical Laurentian, Gondwanan, or Avalonian taxa suggest either a certain degree of insularity of Oaxaquia or reflects a more temperate, unrestricted marine environment during the Early Paleozoic. Other taxa reported from the Tiñu Formation include Semitreta sp., Lingulella? spp., Obolinae gen. and sp. indet., Eoscaphelasma? sp., Ottenbyella? sp. A and sp. B, and Acrotretidae gen. and sp. indet. A, B, and C. Eurytreta and Semitreta are critically reviewed and several taxa previously assigned to them have been excluded. An emended diagnosis for the genus Eurytreta is presented. The presence of delthyrium and notothyrium-like structures in the siphonotretid Oaxaquiatreta n. gen. further strengthens the previously proposed relationship between the Siphonotretida and Paterinida.
Radiolarians have been recovered from lowermost Arenigian rocks of the Cow Head Group in Gros Morne National Park, Newfoundland. Two new faunal assemblages include eight families, 13 genera, and 25 species. Among these, the family Neoaspiculumidae, the genus Neoaspiculum, and 11 species, Beothuka aitchisoni, B. grosmornensis, B. stougei, B.? stellata, Neoaspiculum cancellium, N. headense, N. transformum, N. laxum, N.? amplum, Proventocitum cylindricum, and P. piriforme, are new.
This study elucidates the reason for the significant difference in species composition between pre-Arenigian and Arenigian radiolarian faunas. This difference does not appear to be due to mass extinction, but rather to phylogenetic evolution: most radiolarian families that flourished during pre-Arenig time were gradually but significantly reduced by the earliest Arenig. Characteristic features of the earliest Arenig assemblages that distinguish them from their Tremadocian predecessors are 1) the development of a distinctive skeletal constructional element referred to as “bandage” structure that evolved through modification of a mesh of thin bars and 2) the appearance of multiple concentric shells including a proloculus (or a microsphere), which developed from a primitive three-dimensionally interwoven meshwork or spongy shell wall. These forms, represented by beothukids, antygoporids, and inaniguttids, are rare but they appear to originate in the earliest Arenig. Transitional characteristics among those forms are developed in the Neoaspiculumidae, which flourished during the earliest Arenig.
The precise biostratigraphic age of one of the assemblages was determined with the recovery of the index condont Prioniodus adamiStouge and Bagnoli, 1988 from strata belonging to the Tetragraptus approximatus Graptolite Zone, which is at the base of the Arenigian.