Article: The early ontogeny of Jurassic thecideoid brachiopods and its contribution to the understanding of thecideoid ancestry
A collection of very early brephic juveniles from the Upper Aalenian of the Cotswolds, England, has provided the first opportunity to study the ontogeny of thecideoids prior to the recognizable development of a median septum. Traced towards their origin, the enduring characters of thecideides appear to be cementation, a delthyrium closed by a pseudodeltidium, an almost circular dorsal valve with a prominent erect bilobed cardinal process, well-defined inner socket ridges, widely spaced lateral adductor muscle fields, tubercles, fibrous secondary shell lining both valves and probably endopunctae. The subperipheral rim and median septum so characteristic of adult thecideoids are undeveloped in the earliest juveniles. Initiation of the development of the free ventral wall in the ventral valve is identified as an important event in thecideoid ontogeny. Further important discoveries arising from the study are that the crura-like outgrowths which form the brachial bridge in thecideides are not structurally homologous with the crura of spiriferides or terebratulides and that during their earliest ontogenetic development thecidellinids and thecideids are indistinguishable. Also, the identification of morphological characters correlative with both palaeontological and neontological approaches to thecideoid phylogeny has important implications for thecideide taxonomy. Interpretation of the morphology exhibited by the Cotswold specimens introduces the probability that during their earliest ontogeny moorellinin, thecidein and lacazellin dorsal valves follow the same development pattern and the described ontogenetic sequence has been corroborated by evidence from Jurassic rocks of Argentina, North America and France, from Cretaceous rocks of England, Central Europe and Czechoslovakia, also from extant species from the Atlantic, Indian and Pacific oceans, and to an extent which suggests the pattern of ontogenetic development revealed has been typical of thecideoids throughout their history.