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Morphology and ontogeny of the eodiscoid trilobite Sinodiscus changyangensis from the lower Cambrian of South China


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Abstract: A large number of complete specimens together with numerous disarticulated sclerites of the eodiscinid trilobite Sinodiscus changyangensis Zhang inZhou et al., 1977 have been collected from the lower Cambrian Shuijingtuo Formation in Changyang, Hubei Province, South China. An ontogenetic series is established based on the immature and mature exoskeletons including the previously unknown protaspides and meraspides, in particular. No further substages can be differentiated in the protaspid specimens herein. Changes that took place during the meraspid period include the addition of postcephalic segments and prominent pygidial larval notches in early meraspid development which became progressively less distinct and disappeared in degree 2. Two holaspid stages are recognized based on the addition of a new pygidial segment, indicating that the start of the holaspid phase preceded the onset of the epimorphic phase and accordingly, its developmental mode is attributed to the protarthrous pattern. The trunk segmentation schedule of S. changyangensis is discussed, which is similar to other primitive eodiscoid trilobites, that is, as the boundary between the thorax and pygidium migrated posteriorly, there is no change in the number of the trunk segments. The processes of liberation of the thoracic segment and segment insertion into the pygidium are separated from one another, and the two different mechanisms, somitogenesis and tagmosis, progress independently during the ontogenetic development of the postcephalic region of these primitive eodiscinids.