Late Ordovician brachiopods from eastern North Greenland: equatorial offshore migration of the Red River fauna



    1. Center for Macroecology, Evolution and Climate, and Nordic Center for Earth Evolution (NordCEE), Natural History Museum of Denmark, University of Copenhagen, Øster Voldgade 5–7, DK-1350 Copenhagen K, Denmark; e-mail:
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Abstract: Late Ordovician rhynchonelliformean brachiopods, typical of the North American Red River fauna, are found sporadically in the Børglum River Formation of the Centrum Sø area, Kronprins Christian Land, eastern North Greenland. The geographical distribution of this characteristic brachiopod fauna is thus extended to the easternmost extremity of the Laurentian craton. The assemblage compares specifically with the Hiscobeccus brachiopod fauna, based on key taxa such as notably Hiscobeccus gigas (Wang, 1949), and indicates a late Katian age for this part of the succession. For the first time, this typically inland, shallow-water fauna is found associated with genera like Bimuria, suggesting a transitional marginal facies with outer shelf benthos. The current study describes a Hiscobeccus fauna that lived at the seaward edge of its preferred habitat. Furthermore, an unpublished Hiscobeccus fauna, from the Børglum River Formation of Peary Land, central North Greenland, as well as several occurrences from the Kap Jackson and Cape Calhoun formations in various parts of Washington Land, western North Greenland, are described here. These show a distinct shift from older strata containing H. capax (Conrad, 1842) to younger strata exclusively yielding specimens of H. gigas. As H. gigas occurs in the upper part of the Cape Calhoun Formation in Washington Land, it indicates that the upper boundary of the Cape Calhoun Formation is considerably younger than previous estimates, reaching into the uppermost Katian (middle Cautleyan–Rawtheyan). The Cape Calhoun Formation correlates with the upper member of the Børglum River Formation and further demonstrates that the Hiscobeccus fauna was widespread in Laurentian marginal settings of North Greenland. Even though the Hiscobeccus fauna was pan-continental during the late Katian (Richmondian), it possesses a strong provincial signal during the later Ordovician. The new occurrences indicate that this fauna extended to the north-eastern margin of the Laurentian Craton. It lived in close association with cosmopolitan faunal elements that may have been the earliest sign of the succeeding invasion of migrants from Baltica that arrived later during the Hirnantian. The offshore migration of this atypical Hiscobeccus fauna likely demonstrates the path of warm-water currents as the Centrum Sø locality was located at the equator during the Late Ordovician.