The orthidine brachiopod genera Plaesiomys and Hebertella are significant constituents of Late Ordovician benthic marine communities throughout Laurentia. Species-level phylogenetic analyses were conducted on both genera to inform systematic revisions and document evolutionary relationships. Phylogenetic analyses combined discrete and continuous characters, from which character states were determined using a statistical approach, and utilized both cladistic and Bayesian methodologies. Plaesiomys cutterensis, P. idahoensis, and P. occidentalis are herein recognized as distinct species rather than subspecies of P. subquadratus. Similarly, Hebertella montoyensis and H. prestonensis are recognized as distinct species separate from H. occidentalis, and H. richmondensis is recognized as a distinct species rather than a geographical variant of H. alveata. Hebertella subjugata is removed from its tentative synonymy with H. occidentalis and revalidated.
The development of species-level evolutionary hypotheses for Plaesiomys and Hebertella provides a detailed framework for assessing evolutionary and paleobiogeographic patterns of Late Ordovician brachiopods from Laurentia. The geographic range of Hebertella expanded throughout Laurentia during the Richmondian into both intracratonic and marginal basins. Plaesiomys subquadratus participated in the Late Ordovician Richmondian Invasion. The recovered phylogenetic topology for Plaesiomys suggests that P. subquadratus may have migrated into the Cincinnati region from a basin situated to the paleo-northeast.