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Systematics and paleoecology of Late Cambrian echinoderms from the western United States

  • Colin D. Sumrall (a1), James Sprinkle (a1) and Thomas E. Guensburg (a2)

Although echinoderm debris is locally common, articulated specimens are rare in Late Cambrian rocks from the Great Basin and Rocky Mountains of the western United States and are mostly associated with hardgrounds. The fauna, including cornute stylophorans, trachelocrinid eocrinoids, solute homoiosteleans, and rare edrioasteroids, includes several members of the archaic Cambrian Evolutionary Fauna, which had already passed its maximum diversity for echinoderms. In addition to the low diversity, articulated specimen abundance is very low, averaging only about one-tenth that found in overlying Lower Ordovician units. The transition between the Cambrian and Paleozoic Evolutionary Faunas for echinoderms in North America apparently occurred rapidly very close to the Cambrian-Ordovician boundary, because no unequivocal examples of the Paleozoic fauna (such as crinoids, glyptocystitid rhombiferans, asteroids, or echinoids) were found in the Late Cambrian sections.

New taxa include several cothurnocystid stylophorans assigned to Acuticarpus delticus, new genus and species, Acuticarpus? republicensis, new species, and Archaeocothurnus goshutensis, new genus and species; Scotiaecystis? species, a poorly preserved cornute stylophoran with lamellipores; Minervaecystis? species, a fragmentary solute homoiostelean based on several steles; Tatonkacystis codyensis, new genus and species, a well-preserved trachelocrinid eocrinoid with five unbranched arms bearing numerous brachioles; an unnamed, poorly preserved, epispire-bearing eocrinoid; an unnamed, poorly preserved, globular eocrinoid? lacking epispires; and an unnamed, heavily weathered, edrioasterid edrioasteroid. Nearly all holdfasts found in these Upper Cambrian units are single-piece blastozoan types, probably belonging to trachelocrinid and other eocrinoids. Distinctive columnals and thecal plates of several additional undescribed eocrinoids and other echinoderms were locally abundant and are also described.

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Journal of Paleontology
  • ISSN: 0022-3360
  • EISSN: 1937-2337
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