Paedomorphosis of ammonoids as a result of sealevel fluctuations in the Late Devonian Wocklumeria Stufe



    1. Institut und Museum für Geologie und Paäontologie der Eberhard Karls-Universität, Sigwartstraβe 10, D-72076 Tubingen; 13th November, 1993
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A remarkable diversification of several independent ammonoid lineages with high evolutionary rates occurred in the Late Devonian Wocklumeria Stufe. Many speciation events led to paedomorphic ammonoids that display a striking range of conch shapes, sculpture, and ornamentation. In the goniatite family Prionoceratidae, the transition from normal Mimimitoceras species to paedomorphic Balvia species provides an example of rapid size decrease combined with an early character developmental offset arising from progenesis. Adults of early Balvia species largely have the preadult ancestral morphology of Mimimitoceras, but later evolving species acquire distinct conch and ornamentation types. Progenetic ammonoid species also appeared within the clymeniid family Kosmoclymeniidae and probably in the Glatzielliidae. In the clymeniid family Parawocklumeriidae, evolution is characterized by the extension of tri-segmented and triangularly coiled whorls found only in juveniles of earlier species, to the adults of later species. This is interpreted as resulting from neoteny. The distribution of paedomorphic ammonoids in the Late Devonian Wocklumeria Stufe is closely correlated to relative sealevel changes. The regressive trend in the lower two-thirds of the Wocklumeria Stufe is interpreted as the cause of a diversification of the pelagic habitat during unstable conditions, and as an extrinsic factor inducing heterochronic change. Some ammonoids reacted by rapid maturation and faster reproductive rates, giving the opportunity to exploit a wider range of niches. The apparent consequence was the formation of several allopatric species. □Ammonoidea, Late Devonian, evolution, heterochrony, sealevel changes.