Article: Diverse middle Ordovician palaeoscolecidan worms from the Builth-Llandrindod Inlier of central Wales
Palaeoscolecidan worms are rare, Early Palaeozoic fossils with uncertain affinities within the Ecdysozoa. They are locally abundant in the Cambrian and scattered in the Early Ordovician, but very sparse thereafter. Forty-four specimens have been collected from the Middle Ordovician of the Builth-Llandrindod Inlier of Mid Wales and include well-preserved material assigned to seven new genera, with four additional species in open nomenclature. An additional specimen from the Arenig Pontyfenni Formation of South Wales is also described in open nomenclature. The total demonstrates much greater palaeoscolecid diversity than hitherto suspected for this time. The specimens are preserved as cuticle fragments in shales and siltstones, often of submillimetre size but in many cases with excellent preservation. The level of detail preserved in some is equal to that found in Cambrian phosphatized faunas. The new approach to collecting, and the recognition that this material can yield taxonomically useful information, opens new avenues for palaeoscolecidan research in siliciclastic environments. The new taxa are the following: Radnorscolex bwlchi gen. et sp. nov., Aggerscolex murchisoni gen. et sp. nov., Bullascolex inserere gen. et sp. nov., Wernia eximia gen. et sp. nov., Ulexiscolex ormrodi gen. et sp. nov., Pluoscolex linearis gen. et sp. nov. and Loriciscolex cuspidus gen. et sp. nov. The high diversity, and the taxonomic separation from known groups described primarily from Cambrian carbonates, implies that palaeoscolecidans either diversified significantly during the Ordovician or were taxonomically segregated between carbonate and siliciclastic settings. Palaeobiological findings also include confirmation that some palaeoscolecid basal cuticles were solid and others reticulate, plates (and platelets) could form by lateral accretion, plates were in part primarily phosphatic and in part organic and that in at least some groups, platelet secretion occurred external to plate secretion.