• biodiversity;
  • biogeography;
  • echinoderms;
  • trilobites;
  • sequence framework;
  • West Gondwana

Abstract:  The middle Cambrian strata of the Iberian Chains (north-eastern Spain) and the Montagne Noire (southern France) record an adaptative radiation of cinctans and trilobites, which spanned the Leonian–early Languedocian interval. A diachronous diversity peak was reached by both benthic groups when favourable palaeoenvironmental conditions (clayey vs. silty substrates) were established. The acme in diversity was followed by a gradual decline and a barren interval associated with the onset of the mid-Languedocian regression, well constrained throughout the western Mediterranean region. For trilobites, the aftermath of the regression is characterized by a late-Languedocian major faunal turnover of families, followed by a renewed Furongian–early Tremadocian radiation related to the stepwise immigration of trilobite invaders from northern and eastern Gondwana, under persistent transgressive conditions. In contrast, the cinctans reappeared only patchily in late-Languedocian monospecific coquinas and finally disappeared before the Furongian. Thus, the late Languedocian is a crucial interval in which to analyse the decline in diversity and final extinction of cinctans in the aftermath of the mid-Languedocian regression.