Article: New cladid and flexible crinoids from the Mississippian (Tournaisian, Ivorian) of England and Wales
The modern study of fossil crinoids began with J. S. Miller who, in 1821, described specimens from southern England, nearby Wales and other regions, and named several common Early Carboniferous genera. Later, in 1950-60, James Wright monographed all known Early Carboniferous crinoids from the British Isles. In spite of such previous scrutiny, we recognize here two new genera among species already described: Glamorganocrinus gen. nov. (type species: Ophiurocrinus gowerensis Wright, 1960) from South Wales and Mendipocrinus gen. nov. (type species: Poteriocrinus latifrons Austin and Austin, 1847) from southern England. These new genera increase the number of advanced cladid genera in the Ivorian Substage of the Tournaisian in western Europe to 18, and the total number of crinoid genera to 36. A review of species assigned to Mespilocrinus has led to the recognition of M. granulifer De Koninck and LeHon, 1854 as a nomen dubium. A new species of Mespilocrinus, M. wrighti sp. nov., is described from the Ivorian of South Wales; this is the most highly derived species of the genus, as based on a phylogenetic analysis including ten species and 13 characters, with Pycnosaccus as the outgroup. A single, well-ordered tree resulted from this analysis. Interpretation of this tree suggests that the centre of evolution for Mespilocrinus was North America, where three species appeared during the Kinderhookian (early Tournaisian), rapidly achieving morphological disparity within the genus. This radiation event was part of the overall explosive radiation of crinoids following the Late Devonian mass extinction event when crinoid diversity was at a global minimum during the Frasnian. Recovery began during the Famennian, followed by an explosive radiation in the Tournaisian.