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Rugose corals from the Upper Ordovician Sholeshook Limestone of southwest Wales with an assessment of the coral affinities and biofacies



Limestone horizons of Upper Ordovician (Katian) age in southwest Wales contain diverse fossil faunas including rugose corals. The existence of Ordovician Rugosa in Wales was first reported by Murchison in the 1830s, but since then hardly any specimens have been documented systematically until this present study. Newly collected material from the area around Llanddowror (Carmarthenshire) has now confirmed the diversity of rugose corals in the Sholeshook Limestone (Katian age), an arenaceous limestone originating from the shelf edge of the palaeocontinent Avalonia. The majority of the specimens are preserved as moulds. This means that in many instances preservation of the fossils was insufficient for specific identification; nevertheless, it was possible to document a diverse rugose coral fauna, including Helicelasma, probable Grewingkia and Kenophyllum, and a potential early mucophyllid. While associated with considerable difficulties, as some diagnostic features of Rugosa are not visible in moulds, it is demonstrated here that the work with such specimens can result in faunal information which would otherwise be unobtainable. An assemblage of rugose and tabulate corals in the Sholeshook Limestone can be differentiated from a similar assemblage in the neighbouring Robeston Wathen Limestone which has a slightly different lithology. The fauna has strong similarities with other Avalonian (Irish, English, Belgian) as well as Baltic (Estonian and Norwegian) rugose coral faunas. Copyright © 2012 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.