The order Spiriferinida represented a significant group whose extinction is linked to the early Toarcian mass extinction event. The genus Cisnerospira Manceñido, 2004, conspicuous representative of this group in the Early Jurassic of the western Tethys, is analyzed from a systematic standpoint, grounded mainly on evidence from the Subbetic domain, and its initial diagnosis is revised accordingly. A definitive suprageneric position within the subfamily Paralaballinae is formally proposed in the light of new data herein provided. Both external and internal diagnostic features and the generic and intraspecific variability are described through the analysis of the Cisnerospira species recorded in the easternmost Subbetic area, i.e., Cisnerospira adscendens (Deslongchamps, 1858), C. aff. adscendens, C. angulata (Oppel, 1861), and C.? sylvia (Gemmellaro, 1882). In addition, their interrelation with other records from several Tethyan basins is addressed, and the generic spectrum has been extended to include several species with high morphological affinity. This characterization thus contributes to clarify certain ambiguities in the systematics of the spiriferinids, which entails a complex taxonomy mainly based on the external features, where the ribbing pattern was given foremost classificatory value due to the lack of more reliable generic diagnostic criteria. Furthemore, a morphofunctional analysis performed in Cisnerospira reveals a presumable epibenthonic libero-sessile way of life, and two alternative adaptive strategies are discussed: resting on and/or sticking in substrates with different degree of consolidation, providing a significant hydrodynamic stability to the shell.
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Vol. 90 • No. 6