Article: Early Silurian Sulcipentamerus and Related Pentamerid Brachiopods from South China
Sixteen species from the Lower Silurian (mostly Aeronian and rarely Telychian) of South China have been assigned previously to the brachiopod family Pentameridae, mainly to the genus Pentamerus. Study of intrapopulation variation suggests that 13 species from the upper Aeronian Lojoping Formation of the Yichang area, western Hubei Province, can be synonymized with Sulcipentamerus dorsoplanus, the most abundant pentamerid species of South China but confined to the Yichang area. The conspicuously high and obtuse ventral umbo, strong ventribiconvexity and a sulcate anterior commissure warrant genus status for Sulcipentamerus, independent of Pentamerus. True Pentamerus is rare in South China, known only from upper Aeronian rocks of Guizhou Province. Multivariate analyses indicate that Aeronian pentameride brachiopods of South China are characterized by a high level of provincialism, distinct from those of Laurentia. Also, the Aeronian pentamerides of South China or Laurentia have a low degree of similarity to those of Baltica, Siberia, Avalonia, Kazakhstan and other palaeotropically located plates or terranes. Besides South China and Laurentia, the pentamerides of other palaeotropical regions constituted a relatively tight cluster. This suggests that the palaeogeographical positions of South China and Laurentia only allowed limited or periodic faunal exchange of these generally large-shelled brachiopods adapted to living in relatively shallow, warm waters.