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Keywords:

  • Brachiopoda;
  • magnesium;
  • Novocrania anomala;
  • organic matrix;
  • sulphur;
  • Terebratulina retusa

This study determines the distribution of magnesium and sulphur in the shells of two species of brachiopod from the same environment to highlight environmental and biological influences on shell composition. In Terebratulina retusa there are differences in magnesium concentration between the primary layer and the outer and inner regions of the secondary layer. In contrast, Novocrania anomala has a shell composed of high magnesium calcite and there is no significant difference in magnesium concentration between the primary and the secondary shell layers. Sulphur provides an indication of the distribution of sulphated organic matrix within the shells of T. retusa and N. anomala. In T. retusa the distribution of magnesium and sulphur correlates across the shell; however, there is no evidence for a relationship between magnesium and sulphur distribution in N. anomala. The relationship between magnesium and sulphur in T. retusa indicates that a proportion of the magnesium content of the shell is associated with the sulphated fraction of the organic matrix. In these two species of brachiopod, from the same environment, magnesium and organic concentration and distribution are very different, emphasizing the importance of fully understanding the factors that control biomineral composition before the application of these biominerals to environmental studies.