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Silurian Ramphoprionid polychaetes from Gotland, Sweden

  • Mats Eriksson (a1)

Silurian ramphoprionid polychaete annelids, represented by their jaws (scolecodonts), are described from extensive collections from Gotland, Sweden. The family Ramphoprionidae, monotypic at its original description, is sub-divided into four genera; Protarabellites Stauffer, 1933; Ramphoprion Kielan-Jaworowska, 1962; “Pararamphoprion” Männil and Zaslavskaya, 1985; and Megaramphoprion new genus. Identified species include “P.” cf. nordicus Männil and Zaslavskaya, 1985; P. rectangularis new species; P. staufferi new species; P. triangularis new species; and two Protarabellites species left in open nomenclature. Ramphoprion is represented by one new highly plastic species, R. gotlandensis, housing five distinguishable morphotypes showing gradual evolution. Megaramphoprion, which is most closely related to Ramphoprion, is represented by M. magnus new genus and species, a rare but distinctive taxon. Most species have long stratigraphic ranges within which important morphological changes can nonetheless be observed. The stratigraphic range of ramphoprionids includes, at least, the Ordovician to the Silurian. They are fairly rare in the Silurian of Gotland and where present they generally form less than 10 percent of the polychaete faunas, although occasionally reaching as much as 20 to 30 percent. Evolution, paleoecology, and surface structures of the investigated species are briefly discussed.

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