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Keywords:

  • Brachiopoda;
  • asymmetry;
  • functional morphology;
  • mode of life

Consistent asymmetric folding of the commissure is a characteristic feature of a small but significant number of brachiopod species. The feature may be obligate or facultative and is almost entirely confined to rhynchonellids, most of which are Mesozoic. The detailed nature of the asymmetry is very variable, but does not extend to internal hard parts such as crura. Taken as a whole, asymmetric brachiopod species show no preference for any particular environment or geographic region, and in no circumstances seem to have been markedly more or less successful than symmetric species. We are thus led to suggest that asymmetry was a genetically based condition which cropped up periodically in brachiopod evolution, and which possibly was selected neither particularly for nor against.