Article first published online: 25 NOV 2011
© 2011 Blackwell Publishing Ltd, The Geologists' Association & The Geological Society of London
Volume 27, Issue 6, pages 236–239, November/December 2011
How to Cite
Zatoń, M. and Vinn, O. (2011), Microconchids. Geology Today, 27: 236–239. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2451.2011.00816.x
- Issue published online: 25 NOV 2011
- Article first published online: 25 NOV 2011
Microconchids are a group of tiny, encrusting tubeworms. They appeared in the Late Ordovician, some 450 Myr ago, flourished during the rest of Palaeozoic and Triassic, and became extinct in the Middle Jurassic. Their morphological resemblance to the sedentary polychaete genus Spirorbis, very common in marine environments, misled various authors for decades. This mistake originally gave the genus Spirorbis an enormous stratigraphical range, from Ordovician to Recent. Indeed, microconchids provide an excellent example of evolutionary convergence with respect to both their morphology and ecology. In the late 1970s these ‘spirorbids’ were interpreted as vermetid gastropods on the basis of the inner architecture and microstructure of their tubes. This idea, however, was challenged in the 1990s when detailed microstructural investigation showed them to be neither polychaetes nor gastropods, but closely related to an extinct Palaeozoic enigmatic group of organisms called tentaculitids. No thorough investigation of their origin, phylogeny and ecology has ever been conducted, but new data concerning their palaeobiology has come to the light during the last few years.