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Endemic thelodonts (Vertebrata: Thelodonti) from the Lower Silurian of central Asia and southern Siberia

  • Živilė Žigaitė (a1) (a2)

New fossil vertebrate microremains from the Lower Silurian of NW Mongolia, Tuva and S Siberia have been discovered, and previous collections of thelodonts (Vertebrata: Thelodonti) from this region re-studied, figured and described, following recent advances in morphology and systematics of thelodont scales. As a result, six thelodont species are described here and attributed to two families and three genera. An emended diagnosis is given for each species. Morpohological scale varieties of each species are revised, and the squamation types are introduced to the species descriptions, resulting in newly grouped morphological sets of scales. The previously monotypic genus Talimaalepis Žigaitė, 2004, is proposed to contain two different species; therefore, two new combinations of morphological scale sets of two species are described for the first time. Both of them show transitional scale structure between the genera Loganellia (family Loganellidae) and Helenolepis (family Phlebolepididae). Two of the thelodont genera, Angaralepis and Talimaalepis, as well as all the six species, are endemic and not known anywhere else in the world. They are accompanied by a variety of other peculiar early vertebrates, such as mongolepids, two endemic genera of acanthodians, and putative galeaspids. This work enhances our knowledge of early Silurian vertebrate diversity, and provides evidence of regional palaeoenvironmental conditions and palaeogeographical relationships of the Siberia and Tuva terranes.

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