Oldest known Dicoelosia and Epitomyonia, deep water brachiopods from the Beiguoshan Formation (Middle Katian, Upper Ordovician), Shaanxi, north China



Abstract:  A diverse brachiopod fauna from a relatively deep water carbonate facies of the Upper Ordovician Beiguoshan Formation (uppermost Caradoc – lower Ashgill, middle Katian) is characterized by small shells and contains the oldest known Dicoelosia and Epitomyonia, two diagnostic taxa of deep water brachiopod palaeocommunities during the Late Ordovician and Silurian. Three new species are recognized: Dicoelosia cordiformis sp. nov., Dicoelosia perbrevis sp. nov. and Epitomyonia fui sp. nov. These pioneer forms of the family Dicoelosiidae show a relatively high degree of morphological plasticity. The shells of Dicoelosia from the Beiguoshan Formation range from the typical slender-lobed form with a concavoconvex profile to the strongly equibiconvex, fat-lobed morphotype that was not known previously until the late Silurian. The Beiguoshan dicoelosiids point to an important attribute of the deep water brachiopods: small generalists with high morphological plasticity, which make them ideal candidates as progenitors for the evolution of shallow water brachiopod faunas in shelf and platform depositional environments.