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Morphology and phylogenetic interpretation of a new Cambrian edrioasteroid (Echinodermata) from Spain



Abstract: The edrioasteroid, Aragocystites belli gen. nov. sp. nov. from the middle Cambrian Murero Formation of Spain, is described based on a small number of very well-preserved specimens. Important anatomical characteristics include star-shaped and pseudoclavate theca, rare or absent epispires, well-developed interradially positioned oral plates and several unorganized cover plates associated with each widely exposed flooring plate. A phylogenetic analysis including several Cambro–Ordovician species shows it is more derived than Stromatocystites and Totiglobus but is a sister group to a clade comprising Cambraster and Edriodiscus. Ontogenetic observations based on juveniles of 5 mm in diameter suggest that this species changed thecal shape markedly during growth. A. belli gen. nov. sp. nov. probably lived in quiet environments where it attached directly to the sea floor on stabilized substrates.