Enigmatic polychaete jaws from the Silurian of Gotland, Sweden



The jaws of the new polychaetaspid polychaete, Oenonites? honki, from the Silurian of Gotland, Sweden, differ from most Palaeozoic polychaete jaws. They exhibit enigmatic microstructural features in that they appear rough and give a corroded, or weathered impression. The altered microstructure of the jaws suggests a jaw chemistry and/or composition differing in some way from that of the co-occurring polychaete taxa. The jaws appear to have limited preservational potential and/or were particularly susceptible to secondary processes, resulting in microstructural alteration. Commonly, a row of distinct pits occurs on the outer face, especially of the first right maxillae (MIr). Because these pits are interpreted as associated with the dentary, the term ‘denticle marks’ is suggested. The pits may be the result of primary or secondary physical wear, or, more probably, secondary chemical alteration of localized mineral deposits. The primary function of such mineral deposits was to harden those parts of the surface that were exposed to great stress. The restricted occurrence of O.? honki, coupled with occasional increases in abundance (especially in the Halla Formation, unit b), indicates a preference for shallow marine, high-energy environments, particularly in reefal pockets with calcilutitic sediments. Highest frequency coincides with faunas characteristically containing a few labidognath species also displaying high frequencies.