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Keywords:

  • Dysaerobic;
  • ecologic stability;
  • community evolution;
  • biofacies;
  • Devonian;
  • Mississippian;
  • Pennsylvanian;
  • Late Paleozoic

Late Paleozoic faunas found in sediments of dysaerobic origin represent a unique community type that remained essentially unchanged from the Middle Devonian to the Early Permian. This dysaerobic community had the following unique characteristics: (1) dominance by vagile molluscs, with suspension-feeding brachiopods, bryozoans, corals and echinoderms usually subordinate; (2) a trophic structure dominated by deposit feeders and carnivorous or scavenging cephalopods; (3) small body size as the result of high juvenile mortality and possibly stunting; and (4) preservation of most individuals as pyritic stein-kerns. All these characteristics are directly linked to the low oxygen levels of the dysaerobic environment. The relative stability of the deeper water, dysaerobic environment is consistent with Sanders' Stability-Time Hypothesis. The dysaerobic environment apparently offered a refuge for more archaic biotas that evolved in nearshore environments of the early Paleozoic.