Palaeoworld

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Developing Global Standard Chronostratigraphic Scale for the Cambrian System (modified from Babcock et al., 2005) showing interpreted time equivalence of key biotas, bioevents and physico-chemical correlation signals. The curve of δ 13 C is a composite based on various published (e.g., Derry et al., 1994; Zhang et al., 1997; Brasier and Sukhov, 1998; Saltzman et al., 1998; Monta nez et al., 2000; Corsetti and Hagadorn, 2001; Buggisch et al., 2003; Peng et al., 2004; Zhu et al., 2004; Babcock et al., 2005; Guo et al., 2005; Maloof et al., 2005; Kouchinsky et al., 2005) and unpublished data sources. 
Papers resulting from the Fourth International Symposium on the Cambrian System, held in Nanjing, China, in 2005 cover three major aspects of geology and paleontology: (1) the developing global standard for Cambrian chronostratigraphy or regional correlation schemes; (2) regional lithostratigraphy, sedimentology and paleoenvironments; (3) organismal paleobiology, phylogenetic affinities and taphonomy.A generalized curve of carbon isotopes (δ13C) through the Cambrian suggests a relationship between major biotic events, sea level history and the development of deposits of exceptional preservation (Lagerstätten). Recognition of this relationship increases the importance of the δ13C profile as a tool for intercontinental and intracontinental correlation. Significant δ13C excursions in the Cambrian are: BACE (negative excursion at the base of the Cambrian System); ZHUCE (positive excursion in the lower part of Stage 2); SHICE (negative excursion in the middle part of Stage 2); CARE (positive excursion near the base of Stage 3); MICE (positive excursion in the lower part of Stage 4); AECE (negative excursion in the middle part of Stage 4); ROECE (negative excursion near the base of Stage 5); DICE (negative excursion beginning near the base of the Drumian Stage); SPICE (positive excursion beginning at the base of the Paibian Stage); TOCE (negative excursion near the top of Stage 10). All acronyms other than SPICE are newly proposed.
 
The Afanasievo Quarry, approximately 90 km southeast of Moscow and about 5 km southwest of Voskresensk, starts with Late Moscovian limestone of the Peski Formation, which is overlain by shallow-water carbonates of the Krevyakinian Horizon (Substage) (Suvorovo and Voskresensk formations) and the lower part of the Khamovnikian Horizon (Substage) (Ratmirovo and Neverovo formations). These rocks were formed under the strong influence of glacio-eustatic sea-level fluctuations and are separated by the palaeosol horizons and minor stratigraphic gaps. The Moscovian–Kasimovian transition interval contains fusulinids, brachiopods, bryozoans, corals, and conodonts. It was recently proposed [Villa, E., Task Group, 2005. Report of the Task Group to establish GSSPs at the Moscovian–Kasimovian and Kasimovian-Gzhelian boundaries. Newsletter on Carboniferous Stratigraphy 23, 9–10] that the appearance of the conodont Idiognathodus sagittalis Kozitskaya is one of the best markers for definition of the base of the Kasimovian on the global chronostratigraphic scale. The first appearance of this species is 2 m above the base of Neverovo Formation, and is close to the first appearance of the fusulinid Montiparus in the section. The possible ancestor of I. sagittalis occurs in the lower Suvorovo Formation, but is more abundant and more advanced in the middle to upper parts of the Voskresensk Formation. This lineage has potential for defining a GSSP at the first appearance of I. sagittalis.
 
The Platanaceae holds a basal position in the phylogeny of eudicots and therefore is of great interest to angiosperm systematists. The fossil record of the family is found in strata ranging from the Cretaceous to Recent in America, Europe and Asia. The research on the Platanaceae in the Dakota Formation can be traced back to 19th century; however, mesofossils of reproductive organs of the Platanaceae were never reported in the Midwest of North America before. This paper reports several specimens of Friisicarpus (Platanaceae) from the Dakota Formation in Kansas, USA. It complements the existing fossil records, and provides more information on reproductive biology of the family. The comparison with similar fossils from eastern North America and Europe provides some hints on biostratigraphy of the Cretaceous.
 
Mineralogical and geochemical studies of the non-marine Permian–Triassic (P–Tr) boundary across two stratigraphically well-constrained sections (Commando Drift Dam and Wapadsberg, Eastern Cape Province) in the southern Karoo Basin, South Africa, have been undertaken to provide further input on the cause of this mass extinction event, and so has a sedimentological and geochemical evaluation of a third P–Tr boundary section at Injusiti (Kwazulu-Natal) in the eastern Karoo Basin, South Africa. The Commando Drift Dam section has been constrained by previous palaeontological and palaeomagnetic work, with a palaeomagnetic reversal positioned 5.3 m above the palaeontological P–Tr boundary. The Wapadsberg section has been constrained palaeontologically. All these P–Tr sections studied here mostly comprise mudstones, together with siltstones, sandstones, and in the southern Karoo Basin, carbonate nodular horizons. A change in colour of the mudstones from green-grey to red-brown takes place at the palaeontologically defined boundary. Variations in the major and trace element abundance profiles are usually limited to the carbonate nodular horizons, besides the overall effects of weathering. Bulk carbon isotopic studies of the Commando Drift Dam section revealed a negative δ13Cbulk excursion (background values of −15 to −20‰, with total extent of excursion to −24.9‰) 2 cm below the palaeontological boundary, followed by a gradual recovery and then another decrease in values leading towards the palaeomagnetic boundary. Above this boundary recovery to less negative δ13Cbulk values (ca. −18‰) occurs. The organic carbon record from the Commando Drift Dam (southern Karoo Basin) and Injusiti (eastern Karoo Basin) oscillates between −26.1 and −28.9‰, which is comparable to previous studies of different sections in the southern Karoo Basin. The magnitude of both the bulk and organic carbon isotopic variation can be interpreted to indicate a number of inputs (due to the fluctuating values) of organic carbon. The carbon isotope data for carbonates in the Injusiti section are different from the results on carbonates from other studies, but more work to expand this dataset is necessary. The palynological studies on the Commando Drift Dam section reveal the presence of a low diversity flora composed principally of bryophytes, lycophytes, and gymnosperms. These forms, including several Late Permian key-species, are traces of the surviving plants enduring after the major extinction-pulse. The presence of fungal palynomorphs and dearth of pollen/spores related to photosynthetic plants some metres above the palaeontological P–Tr boundary demonstrate similarities to the pattern of floral extinction at the Cretaceous–Palaeogene (K–Pg) boundary. The timing of vertebrate extinctions in the Karoo Basin has so far not been determined, but the 252.5 Ma age for a single zircon crystal from Commando Drift Dam dated here gives a maximum constraint on the age of the event bed, which is in agreement with the accepted age of the boundary. No evidence for impact-produced microdeformation features were found in quartz grains from either the Wapadsberg or Commando Drift Dam sections. Also, siderophile element data (including platinum group element (PGE) concentrations) do not support the possible presence of a meteoritic component at the boundary. Thus, a link between impact and P–Tr extinction is not indicated by the results of this study.
 
A new procolophonid reptile, Kitchingnathus untabeni n. gen. et n. sp., is described from the uppermost strata of the Lystrosaurus Assemblage Zone of the Karoo Basin, South Africa. The new taxon co-occurs with the well-known Procolophon trigoniceps. The most distinctive feature of the new taxon is the presence of numerous small bicuspid molariforms in both the maxilla and the dentary. A phylogenetic analysis indicates that Kitchingnathus occupies a basal position among procolophonids. Character optimisation suggests that bicuspid teeth were acquired independently by the new taxon, and originated twice in procolophonid evolution.
 
The South-Alpine Permian succession consists of continental and also, to the east of the Adige Valley, marine deposits. The former are made up of volcanic and siliciclastic rocks, while the latter, represented by the Bellerophon Formation of Late Permian age, include evaporites and shallow-marine sediments. However, in the Carnic Alps, marine deposition began earlier, from Carboniferous times. In this context, two major and well-differentiated tectono-stratigraphic units (TSUs) or cycles, separated by a marked regional unconformity and a gap of as-yet uncertain duration, are clearly evident. This paper aims at reviewing the current stratigraphic framework and correlating it to the most recent timescales. This research indicates that initial deposition of the Verrucano Lombardo/Val Gardena Sandstone red beds probably occurred in many places, such as in the Carnic Alps, during Middle Permian times. Consequently, this interpretation supports a reduction, at least locally, of the large time-gap suggested between the two above-mentioned cycles. Their respective evolution led to paleogeographic changes related to different structural and geodynamic settings. The Lower Permian stratigraphic sequence was mainly deposited in transtensional pull-apart and strike-slip intracontinental basins during the onset of regional uplift, with unroofing, collapse and stretching of the Variscan orogen, upwelling of the asthenosphere and intrusion of granitic melts into the crust. This episode could be interpreted as the final act of the “Hercynian (Variscan) Cycle”. It was followed by a tectonic event (the so-called “Mid-Permian Episode” in the literature) as a prelude to general plate reorganization and the opening of new oceans (such as Meliata-Maliak and Neotethys). In contrast, the Middle pro parte—Upper Permian stratigraphic sequence marks the development of more generalized extensional tectonics, compatible with a rifting regime. According to many authors, it is regarded as the beginning of the “Alpine Cycle”.
 
Semi-transversal view in SEM of an angiosperm wood, Cenomanian of Gard (France).
Radial view in SEM of an angiosperm wood, Cenomanian of Gard (France).  
Berriasian–Cenomanian fossil wood record in Europe: solid line and squares, total generic diversity; dashed line and triangles, number of new gymnosperm genera (i.e., not represented earlier in the record); dotted line and diamonds, number of new angiosperm wood genera.  
The important question of early angiosperm growth habit (i.e., trees, shrubs or herbs?) remains unanswered. Various theories have been based on data from both living and fossil plants. The Early Cretaceous fossil wood record, however, was seldom used to investigate early angiosperm habit. We set up a database for the Early Cretaceous and Cenomanian of Europe, as this area has the most complete and stratigraphically well-constrained record. The database has 170 entries, based on a bibliographical survey and on the examination of more than 600 new fossil wood specimens from a wide range of palaeoenvironments. In our record the woody characteristic in angiosperms appeared during the Albian, whereas most of the angiosperm's early evolution took place earlier, during the earliest Cretaceous. From the European fossil wood record for the Early Cretaceous and Cenomanian, the global extension and dominance of angiosperms in the Cenomanian is concomitant with a sharp increase in heteroxylous wood diversity. It appears that small stature and weak wood limited the angiosperm ecological radiation for some time.
 
Two Permian-Triassic boundary sections (Lung Cam and Nhi Tao) in shallow marine carbonates from northern Vietnam, near the border between Vietnam and China, were studied for major and trace elemental variations as well as carbon and oxygen isotopic compositions. At the Nhi Tao section, we observe a continuous transition from Late Permian limestones, siliceous limestones and microbial limestones (Dong Dang Formation) to Early Triassic limestones and dolomitic limestones (Hong Ngai Formation). At the Lung Cam section, a thin layer of shale (the uppermost part of the Dong Dang Formation-Late Permian) separates carbonate layers of the Dong Dang Formation (Late Permian) from those of the Hong Ngai Formation (Early Triassic).
 
The biogeographic significance of Devonian macrovertebrate assemblages from East Gondwana is reviewed, with updates incorporating recent discoveries including new placoderms (antiarchs, groenlandaspid arthrodires, phyllolepids), sarcopterygians (mandageriine tristichopterids, actinistians, rhizodontids), and actinopterygians. Key taxa are illustrated by new specimens. Empirical patterns indicating range expansion from the area of origin for particular groups are analysed and discussed. The almost complete absence of armoured agnathans from the Devonian of Australia remains one of the most significant differences to Northern Hemisphere deposits, implying an isolating mechanism (oceanic or climatic barrier) between Gondwana and Laurussia during the Silurian–Early Devonian. Increasing faunal exchange with Asia during the Devonian may have been initiated with Pragian–Emsian faunal turnovers in South Chinese assemblages. A Gondwanan pattern in Devonian vertebrates persists into the Frasnian, until the Great Devonian Interchange at or near the Frasnian–Famennian boundary establishes strong Laurussian affinities in the early Famennian, when phyllolepid placoderms first appear in the Northern Hemisphere. New data documented on Early Devonian phyllolepids from Gondwana indicate an extended biostratigraphic range, and a diversity maximum in the Givetian–Frasnian. A late Famennian faunal exchange with Asia is suggested by sinolepid antiarchs, but requires corroboration from other fish groups, with conflicting Laurussian affinities indicated by new sarcopterygian and acanthodian data. An alternative explanation of physiological adaptation within sinolepids is discussed, as is the key question of tetrapod origins, for which the only Devonian examples outside Laurussia occur in Australia and China. The vertebrate biogeographic patterns are completely contrary to palaeogeographic reconstructions based on palaeomagnetic evidence.
 
The Luoyixi section, exposed in a roadcut along the Youshui River (Fengtan Reservoir), Guzhang County, Hunan Province, China, is proposed as the stratotype for the base of an unnamed stage boundary (base of the Cambrian stage provisionally termed Stage 7). The proposed position of the GSSP is 121.3 m above the base of the Huaqiao Formation, at a horizon coinciding with the first appearance of the cosmopolitan agnostoid trilobite Lejopyge laevigata. The section fulfills all the requirements for a GSSP, and the horizon can be constrained not only with the primary stratigraphic marker (L. laevigata) but also with secondary biostratigraphic, sequence-stratigraphic, and chemostratigraphic correlation tools. The first appearance of L. laevigata is one of the most readily recognizable levels in the Cambrian, and can be correlated with precision to all paleocontinents.
 
Location of the study area. 
A new fossiliferous locality is discovered from the upper Eocene Aydim Formation, in Dhofar, Southern Sultanate of Oman. A left ulna of Arsinoitherium is described, and cranial and postcranial specimens found in close proximity are referred to the same taxon. The locality is promising for the recovery of additional fossil specimens. Moreover, the presence of Arsinoitherium in Oman is of biogeographic significance; as the Red Sea did not exist during the late Eocene, these large-bodied animals were able to freely travel between what is now the Arabian Peninsula and continental Africa.
 
Palynological assemblages were studied from the coal-bearing Upper Jurassic (Talanja Formation) to the Lower Cretaceous (Dublikan Formation) deposits of the Bureya Basin, Russia. The palynological assemblages from the upper part of the Talanja Formation are dominated by gymnosperms, mainly Ginkgocycadophytus (up to 40%) and conifers related to Pinaceae (up to 70%). The contribution of non-seed plants is not great, but their diversity is considerable. The miospore assemblages of the Talanja sequence are characterized by the last appearance of the spore taxa Staplinisporites pocockii, Camptotriletes cerebriformis, Camptotriletes nitida, and Cingulatisporites sanguinolentus. The palynological assemblage from the Dublikan Formation is dominated by ferns (up to 84%), represented mainly by Cyathidites and Duplexisporites. Among gymnosperms the role of Classopollis increases (making up about 20%). Another feature is the first appearance of the spore taxa Stereisporites bujargiensis, Neoraistrickia rotundiformis, Contignisporites dorsostriatus, Appendicisporites tricostatus, and Concavissimisporites asper.
 
The rate at which new spire-bearing brachiopods, exclusive of spiriferids, have been described, their temporal and geographic diversity, and their grade of endemism through time are reviewed. There has been an almost four-fold increase in the number of spire-bearing brachiopod genera (spiriferids excluded) included in the revised edition of the Treatise compared with those recognized in the first edition. Many of these genera were based on specimens from previously poorly known geologic successions, especially in Russia and China where Chinese and Russian colleagues had undertaken admirable and hard research. Even assuming a relatively high proportion of invalid or synonymous genera, the annual rate of creation of genera has been five to seven times that prior to publication of the first edition. Spire-bearing brachiopod genera erected after the first edition of the Treatise show a greater degree of endemicity than those erected prior to its appearance, with endemism displayed by the athyridids being greater than for the atrypids. No correlation seems to exist between degree of endemicity and generic diversity at any specific time. Endemic spire-bearers are of great value in discriminating biogeographic units. Spire-bearing genera with cosmopolitan tendencies did not evolve rapidly, so their value for global stratigraphic correlations is generally poor. The large increase in generic-level taxa appears to have resulted in a cascading expansion in numbers of higher taxa. In addition to the remarkable increase in the number of taxa during the last four decades, there has been an obvious shift in brachiopod research with increasing integration of other disciplines (biological, palaeontologic, mineralogic), which is improving our understanding of spire-bearers, and of the phylum as a whole in time and space.
 
Silurian placoderms. (A) ‘ Wangolepis ’-like form, left anterior ventrolateral plate from Locality 17 (A1 in external view, A2 in internal view); (B) ‘ Wangolepis- like ’ form, anterior ventrolateral plate from Central Vietnam (Locality 18), in internal view; (C) Myducosteus anmaensis , median dorsal plate from Locality 18 (C1 in internal view, C2 in external view); (D) Silurolepis , from Locality 17, in external view. (A after Janvier et al., 1994; B after Janvier and Tông-Dzuy, 1998; C after Tông-Dzuy et al., 1997; D after Zhang et al., 2010.) 
Silurian acanthodians. (A) Xylacanthus kenstewarti , jaw bone from southern Mackenzie Mountains (Locality 2), in lateral view; (B) Granulacanthus joenelsoni , fin spine from southern Mackenzie Mountains (Locality 2), in lateral view; (C) Tchunacanthus obruchevi , scale from Southern Siberia (Locality 14) (C1 in crown view; C2 vertical thin section); (D) Nostolepis striata , scale from Germany (Locality 9) (D1 in crown view; D2 vertical thin section); (E) Poracanthodes punctatus , scales from North Germany (Locality 9) (E1 in crown view; E2 vertical thin section); (F) Yealepis douglasi , hypothetical reconstruction and a scale impression from Victoria, Australia (Locality 22). (A and B after Hanke et al., 2001; C after Karataj ute-Talimaa and Smith, 2003; D after Gross, 1947; E1 from Denison, 1979 after Gross, 1971; E2 after Gross, 1956; F after Burrow and Young, 1999.) 
Silurian osteichthyans. (A) Andreolepis hedei , scales from Gotland, Sweden (Locality 8) (A1 in outer surface view; A2 vertical thin section); (B) Lophosteus superbus , scales from Estonia (Locality 10) (B1 in outer surface view; B2 vertical thin section); (C) Ligulalepis yunnanensis , a scale from Yunnan Province (Locality 17) in outer surface view; (D) Naxilepis gracilis , a scale from Yunnan Province (Locality 17) in outer surface view; (E) Guiyu oneiros , fish restoration and a scale from Yunnan Province (Locality 17) in outer surface view; (F) Psarolepis sp., a fin spine and a lower jaw from Yunnan Province (Locality 17) (F1 in dorsal view; F2 in lateral view). (A after Gross, 1968; B after Gross, 1969; C and D after Wang and Dong, 1989; E after Zhu et al., 2009; F after Zhu and Schultze, 1997.) 
The temperature curve and atmospheric O 2 concentrations from Ordovician to Devonian, with stratigraphic ranges of main gnathostome taxa. Two grey columns represent the Ordovician invertebrate diversification and the early gnathostome diversification. (Graph of oxygen levels from Berner, 2006; global temperature data presented by squares, circles, triangles, and rhombuses from Trotter et al., 2008 and others based on Scotese, 2008.) 
The number of known Silurian gnathostome fossils has increased significantly during the last two decades, and greatly improved our understanding of the early diversification of gnathostomes (jawed vertebrates). Primitive gnathostome remains from the Silurian of China are of special interest in bridging morphological gaps between osteichthyans and non-osteichthyan gnathostome groups. A review of these early fishes shows that gnathostomes had already obtained a wide distribution and experienced an early radiation in the Middle-Late Silurian.Environmental conditions in the Silurian are inferred from recent advances in geochemistry and paleoclimate models. Atmospheric oxygen concentration, an environmental factor critical in organismal evolution, rose gradually during the Silurian and reached modern levels for the first time. Compared to the Middle Ordovician when invertebrates and agnathans underwent a great radiation, the Middle-Late Silurian is distinctive for its high atmospheric oxygen level. We suggest that the rise of the atmospheric oxygen concentration would have triggered the early radiation of jawed vertebrates in the Silurian, which paved the way for the high generic diversity of vertebrates in the Devonian.
 
Alternative interpretations of Australian palaeomagnetic data for the Middle-Late Palaeozoic (left: A and B), and their palaeogeographic implications for the Late Devonian (right: C and D). SLP pole path (A), implying a wide ocean separating northwestern Gondwana and southern Laurussia (C). KG pole path (B), implying continental contiguity between northwestern Gondwana and Laurussia (D). For more detail see Klootwijk et al. (1993 and Tables 8, 9) and Klootwijk (1996a, Figs. 4, 5, 7; 1996b, Table 1.1). Legend pole paths: O: Ordovician, S-D: Silurian-Devonian, De: Early Devonian, Dl: Late Devonian, Ce: Early Carboniferous, Cm: middle Carboniferous, Cl: Late Carboniferous, P: Permian, Tr: Triassic, Pr: primary magnetization, Sec: secondary magnetization, Lachlan: Lachlan Orogen, SNEO: Southern New England Orogen, Craton: Australian Craton, NEQ: Northeast Queensland Volcanic Province, SB: Sydney Basin, AFB: Adelaide Fold Belt. Pole paths (A and B) are shown on a Gondwana reconstruction after Lawver and Scotese (1987) with Australia in its present position.
A: Gondwana-Laurussia/Laurasia reconstruction for the Late Devonian (365 Ma) simplified from Li and Powell (2001). Legend: orange: emergent continent above sea level today, pale yellow: emergent continent below sea level today, purplish: oceanic area, barbed maroon lines mark subduction zones (teeth on overriding side); B: Pangaea reconstruction for mid-and Late Devonian times (370 Ma) simplified from Torsvik and Cocks (2004); C: Gondwana-Laurussia/Laurasia reconstruction for the Famennian (360 Ma) simplified from Stampfli and Borel (2002, see original paper for legend details) (Permission to reproduce kindly granted by authors). (For interpretation of the references to color in this figure caption, the reader is referred to the web version of the article.) Q2 beneath the TOS. However, such east-to-west directed tec-
A: Pangaea reconstruction for the latest Devonian (360 Ma) simplified from Scotese (1997, 2001), ancient landmasses are shaded; B: Pangaea reconstruction for the latest Devonian-Early Carboniferous (359-338 Ma, late Famennian-early Visean) simplified from Golonka (2000). Legend: 1: oceanic spreading centre and transform faults, 2: subduction zone, 3: thrust fault, 4: normal fault, 5: transform fault, 6: mountains, 7: landmass, 8: ice sheet, 9: shallow sea and slope (Permission to reproduce kindly granted by authors).
A: Carboniferous pole path for the Southern New England Orogen (SNEO) based on recent palaeomagnetic data from the Tamworth Belt (Rocky Creek Block [RC] Klootwijk, 2002; Werrie Block [W] Klootwijk, 2003b; Rouchel Block [R] Klootwijk, in preparation; see also Klootwijk, 1996a,b, 2009). Legend: prim: primary magnetization, sec: secondary magnetization, N: normal polarity, R: reverse polarity, M: mixed polarity, ages in Ma. Pole path is shown on a Gondwana reconstruction after Lawver and Scotese (1987) with Australia in its present position. B: Palaeolatitudinal evolution of Armidale (151.67EE, 30.53ES, central location in SNEO) according to the palaeomagnetic data on the pole path shown in 4A. Palaeolatitudes are shown in order of their sequential position on the pole path, using pole declinations as a proxy for relative age control. SHRIMP-dated results provide indicative age control. Legend: 1: Waverley Fm.; 2: Merlewood Fm.; 3: Ayr Conglomerate Mb., Isismurra Fm.; 4: Native Dog Mb.; 5: Unnamed ignimbrites N and E of Albano; 6: Unnamed ignimbrites near Albano; 7: Native Dog Mb.; 8: High Valley andesite tuff; 9: Curra Keith Tongue; 10: Martins Creek Ignimbrite Mb., Newtown Fm. (primary magnetization, reverse polarity); 11: Martins Creek Ignimbrite Mb. (overprint magnetization, normal polarity); 12: Yuendoo Rhyolite; 13: Paterson Volcanics; 14: Peri Rhyolite; 15: tuffaceous beds above Boomi Rhyolite; 16: Curra Keith Tongue and Unnamed ignimbrites near Albano; 17: Kooringal Dacite; 18: Rocky Creek Conglomerate; 19: base Currabubula Fm., Kankool Basin; 20: base Currabubula Fm., Werrie Basin; 21: Lark Hill Fm., Rocky Creek; 22: Lark Hill Fm., Tops Road; 23: top Currabubula Fm., Werrie Basin; c: combined palaeolatitude result for Lark Hill Fm., results 21 and 22; P/O: primary/overprint magnetization.
Evolution of the Kipchak-Tuva-Mongol arc complex from its Vendian origin (A) to its Early Carboniferous (C) and Late Carboniferous (D) configuration as part of the Central Asian Orogenic Belt/Ural-Mongol Fold Belt/Altaids, simplified after S ¸ engör and Natal'in (1996a, Fig. 21.28 [Fig. 5A], Fig. 21.36 [Fig. 5C], Fig. 21.37 [Fig. 5D]). Carboniferous palaeolatitude pattern for the New Guinean promontory of Australia (141 • E, 5 • S), based on data from the Southern New England Orogen (Fig. 4B), is shown for comparison (full squares), with the 20 • N to 40 • N palaeolatitude band highlighted with light shading (B-D). Devonian and Carboniferous palaeolatitudes for the Kazakhstan Orocline and the Tuva Terrane are shown for comparison in B (open squares, 1-13, palaeolatitudes are shown as determined at individual locations, not converted to a common location). Devonian data from the Kazakhstan Orocline: 1: D e , Klishevich and Khramov (1993, cited by Abrajevitch et al., 2007, Table 2, K1-SW); 2: D e , Klishevich and Khramov (1993, cited by Abrajevitch et al., 2007, K2-SW); 3: Grishin et al. (1997, cited by Abrajevitch et al., 2007, G1-NE); 4: Grishin et al. (1997, cited by Abrajevitch et al., 2007, G2-NW); 5: D e-m , Burtman et al. (1998, cited by Levashova et al., 2009, Table 1, B1); 6: D m , Levashova et al. (2003, Table 3, MD); 7: D l , Levashova et al. (2007); 8: D m , Abrajevitch et al. (2007, Table 2, A-SW); 9: D m , Levashova et al. (2009, Table 1, KU); 10: D e-m , Levashova et al. (2009, Table 1, KN and DG). Carboniferous data from the Kazakhstan Orocline: 11: C e , Bazhenov et al. (2003, Table 9, VS); 12: C l , Bazhenov et al. (2003, Table 9, B). Siluro-Devonian Tuva: 13: Bachtadse et al. (2000, Table 2, C).
The prevailing pole path for Australia/Gondwana implies that contact between northwestern Gondwana and southern Laurussia was established not before the Late Carboniferous. This view is challenged by palaeogeographers and also by an alternative pole path for Australia/Gondwana. Both imply instead western Pangaean contact during the Late Devonian and Early Carboniferous. The alternative pole path also challenges the prevailing view of an eastward open Palaeoasian Ocean/Palaeotethys between north-eastern Gondwana and southern Laurasia, prior to the Late Carboniferous. It indicates a substantial northward excursion of Australia/north-eastern Gondwana during the Early Carboniferous, possibly starting already in the Early Devonian, with the New Guinean continental promontory of Australia reaching latitudes of 30°N to 40°N by early-middle Visean times. These latitudes are well within the paleolatitude range determined for the Central Asian Orogenic Belt (CAOB), the Kazakhstan Orocline in particular, during Devonian and Carboniferous. This eastern Pangaean continental convergence may provide an explanation for the widespread, contemporaneous, Variscan tectonism throughout the CAOB and throughout Australia, with implications for faunal interaction between north-eastern Gondwana and southern Laurasia during the Devonian and Early Carboniferous remaining to be ascertained.
 
New collections and revision of previously collected Moscovian crinoids from the Qijiagou Formation of the Taoshigo Valley near Turpan, Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, Western China, add to the generic diversity of the fauna. This camerate-rich echinoderm fauna is now recognized as containing at least one blastoid, five camerate, and ten cladid crinoid genera. The fauna shows greatest affinity at the family level with Moscovian crinoid faunas of Japan and North America.New taxa proposed are: Rhepocatillocrinus tianshanensis n. gen. n. sp.; Binariacrinus alveus n. gen. n. sp.; Bassocrinus abyssus n. gen. n. sp.; and Brabeocrinus asiaensis n. sp.
 
The genera Staffellaeformes and Depratina are widespread in Lower and Middle Pennsylvanian rocks of Eurasia and are important for Pennsylvanian biostratigraphy. The lineage Staffellaeformes–Depratina represents one of several major trends in the fusulinid evolution recorded in the Bashkirian–Moscovian. The genus Depratina first appeared in the late Bashkirian but continued and thrived in the Moscovian. In the Southern Urals, Depratina prisca first appeared close to the base of the Moscovian, and can be used as a marker for this boundary.
 
Here we discuss the duration and position of Upper Rotliegend and Zechstein stratigraphic units in relation to the absolute time scale, and reinterpret a carbon isotope (δ13C) global event recorded from Late Permian (Lopingian/Guadalupian) marine deposits. Based on δ13C isotope correlation (chemostratigraphy) and of climatic evidence related to the end-Guadalupian global marine and terrestrial crisis, the Guadalupian/Lopingian boundary is proposed as the boundary between both the European Upper Rotliegend (URII)/Zechstein sediments and the parallel south-west USA Ochoan/Bell Canyon Formation units. The Zechstein deposition was strongly influenced by climatic oscillations, and the marine ingressions recorded in the North German Basin and North American Delaware Basin are presumed to have resulted from the same eustatic sea-level changes in western and northern coasts of the Northern Pangaea Supercontinent. Existing constraints on the age of the Upper Rotliegend II (UR II) deposits are imposed by the uncertainty of the chronostratigraphic boundary of the Kupferschiefer and by a time marker that is Illawarra, the boundary of the reversed polarity megachron (Kiaman) and mixed polarity megachron. Three options (A, B, C) have been discussed, which are connected with a time span comprising deposition of the UR II rocks, assuming that the time span needed for the Dethlingen/Lower Noteć formations and Hannover/Upper Noteć formations is about 6 myr. The time left for the deposition of the Parchim/Lower Drawa, Mirow/Upper Drawa deposits and the time hidden in the erosional gaps and hiatuses range from 1.6 myr to 4 myr or even 8 myr. These were based on the time interval related to the Kiaman Reversed Polarity megachron, which can contain more transient normal polarity zones than currently accepted. The presence and absolute dating of all such magnetozones is difficult to determine because they are represented in continental strata characterized by numerous, poorly time-constrained erosional gaps. The proposed option C is provisionally integrated with magnetostratigraphic results and shows an alternative stratigraphical scheme for the Upper Rotliegend. This alternate Upper Rotliegend stratigraphy helps correlate rocks (deposited in dry arid climatic conditions) in the lower part of the Upper Rotliegend II of the Southern Permian Basin (Havel and Drawa subgroups) with similar rocks in the Delaware Basin (attributed to formations within the Leonardian Regional Series).
 
The population dynamics and community structure of the Pachycyrtella Bed at the base of the Lower Permian Saiwan Formation (Interior Oman) are described. The populations of the brachiopod Pachycyrtella omanensis and the bivalve Dickinsartella pistacina are census populations, which show a stable structure, with individuals growing successfully to maturity due to fast initial growth rate. P. omanensis and D. pistacina are opportunist species that colonized a physically stressed environment, characterized by high mobility of the substrate, high energy and high nutrient influx at the end of the Gondwanan deglaciation. Both P. omanensis and D. pistacina have a large biovolume with respect to surface area and this may reflect an adaptation to cool climate conditions, whereas their thick shell substance could be the result of increasing biocalcification in the high O2/CO2 Early Permian atmosphere. Community structure records the combined effect of rich food resources and an unstable environment, as low (individuals) to very low (biovolume) diversity values and short suspension feeding chains characterize the pioneer palaeocommunities of the Pachycyrtella Bed. The slight increase in diversity in the upper part of the bed is interpreted to have resulted from a change in the environmental stability, probably connected to decreasing hydrodynamic energy during a small scale sea-level rise. More favourable conditions at the top of the bed are also suggested by the relative abundance of the newly recognized small-sized strophalosiid species Strophalosia ericinia n. sp., which spent part of its life firmly attached to P. omanensis and bivalves.
 
The Capitanian (late Guadalupian) high positive plateau interval of carbonate carbon isotope ratio (δ13Ccarb) was recognized lately in a mid-Panthalassan paleo-atoll limestone in Japan as the Kamura event. This unique episode in the late-middle Permian indicates high productivity in the low-latitude superocean likely coupled with resultant global cooling. This event ended shortly before the Guadalupian–Lopingian (middle-late Permian) boundary (ca. 260 Ma); however, its onset time has not been ascertained previously. Through a further analysis of the Wordian (middle Guadalupian) to lower Capitanian interval in the same limestone at Kamura in Kyushu, we have found that the δ13Ccarb values started to rise over +4.5‰ and reached the maximum of +7.0‰ within the Yabeina (fusuline) Zone of the early-middle Capitanian. Thus the total duration of the Kamura event is estimated over 3–4 million years, given the whole Capitanian ranging for 5.4 million years. This 3–4 million years long unique cooling event occurred clearly after the Gondwana glaciation period (late Carboniferous to early Permian) in the middle of the long-term warming trend toward the Mesozoic. This cooling may have been a direct cause of the end-Guadalupian extinction of low-latitude, warm-water adapted fauna including the large fusulines (Verbeekinidae), gigantic bivalves (Alatoconchidae), and rugose corals (Waagenophyllidae). The Kamura event marks the first sharp excursion of δ13Ccarb values in the volatile fluctuation interval that lasted for nearly 20 million years from the late-Middle Permian until the early-Middle Triassic. This interval with high volatility in δ13Ccarb values represents the transition of major climate mode from the late Paleozoic icehouse to the Mesozoic–Cenozoic greenhouse regime. The end-Paleozoic double-phased extinction occurred within this interval and the Capitanian Kamura event is regarded as the prelude to this transition.
 
Changes in marine biodiversity through the Phanerozoic correlate much better with hyperbolic model (widely used in demography and macrosociology) than with exponential and logistic models (traditionally used in population biology and extensively applied to fossil biodiversity as well). The latter models imply that changes in diversity are guided by a first-order positive feedback (more ancestors, more descendants) and/or a negative feedback arising from resource limitation. Hyperbolic model implies a second-order positive feedback. The hyperbolic pattern of the world population growth arises from a second-order positive feedback between the population size and the rate of technological growth. The hyperbolic character of biodiversity growth can be similarly accounted for by a feedback between the diversity and community structure complexity. The similarity between the curves of biodiversity and human population probably comes from the fact that both are derived from the interference of the hyperbolic trend with cyclical and stochastic dynamics.
 
Osteohistological analysis of the dicynodonts Endothiodon, Diictodon, Lystrosaurus and Wadiasaurus reveals distinctly different growth patterns within a framework of an overall fast growth. The late Permian endemic taxon from India, Endothiodon mahalanobisi and the South African Diictodon feliceps had periodic fast growth. The early Triassic Lystrosaurus murrayi and the middle Triassic Wadiasaurus indicus had an initial fast growth followed by a relatively slow growth later in ontogeny as is observed from the presence of peripheral parallel fibred bone. Although all examined dicynodont genera had an indeterminate growth strategy, the bone microstructure of Wadiasaurus suggests that its growth was much slower than that of other dicynodonts examined. Mapping of osetohistological character states on a cladogram depicting the inter-relationship between available neotherapsid genera shows that fibrolamellar bone tissue, overall fast growth and indeterminate growth strategy were plesiomorphic for the neotherapsids. A considerable reduction in developmental plasticity and evolution of apparently independent growth trajectories from environmental conditions are evident within the non-mammalian cynodonts, with the advanced tritylodontids achieving almost a mammalian growth trajectory.
 
A brachiopod fauna comprising nine species in eight genera from three closely spaced stratigraphic horizons of the same stratigraphic section is described for the first time from the Laibin Limestone in the uppermost part of the Maokou Formation in the Guadalupian/Lopingian (G/L) GSSP section at Penglaitan, Guangxi Autonomous Region, South China. The brachiopod assemblages are bracketed between two conodont zones: Jinogondolella xuanhanensis Zone below and Jinogondolella granti Zone above and, therefore, they can be safely assigned to the latest Capitanian in age. However, all but one of the nine brachiopod species from the Laibin Limestone carry strong early Lopingian (Wuchiapingian) aspect. Thus, the discovery of this brachiopod fauna not only suggests that some Lopingian brachiopod species had already appeared in the late Guadalupian (Capitanian); more importantly, it has also highlighted the fact that both the previously noted pre-Lopingian life crisis (or end-Guadalupian or Middle Permian mass extinction) and Lopingian recovery/radiation actually occurred in late Capitanian times, sometime before the G/L chronostratigraphic boundary. So far, the Penglaitan GSSP section provides the highest-resolution disappearance patterns of different fossil groups around the G/L boundary.
 
In the Early and Middle Cambrian (of traditional usage), three broad facies belts were developed over the Siberian Platform. The lithofacies belts comprise evaporitic-carbonate, reef-shoal, and open-marine environments.Trilobites assemblages are most diverse in the open-marine lithofacies (Judoma-Olenek facies), represented especially by the Kuonamka Formation, in the eastern part of the platform. Species, genera and families of trilobites gradually increased through the Middle-Cambrian boundary interval in the Kuonamka Formation. Protolenidae dominated in the time represented by the Lermontovia Zone. In strata assigned to the Anabaraspis Zone, the protolenids disappear, the paradoxidids appear, and the diversity of dorypygids increases. The number of trilobite families increases in the Oryctocara and Kounamkites zones.Well represented in the Kuonamka formation of the eastern Siberian Platform are three levels of trilobites that have potential for global correlation. They are the Oryctocephalus reticulatus (=O. indicus latus), Oryctocephalus indicus, and Ovatoryctocara granulatus levels. The Lower-Middle Cambrian boundary in the South China correlates to the lower part of the Kounamkites Zone of the Siberian Platform.
 
Epitomyonia is characterized by various types of dorsal ridges, which may be transverse, longitudinal, or highly convoluted and probably served as skeletal supports for lophophores of various complexity. Multivariate analyses suggest that the Epitomyonia-bearing brachiopod associations lived in relatively shallow-water environment in the Late Ordovician, and inhabited mainly deep-water environments in the early Wenlock. The temporal and spatial change in the faunal distribution may be explained by three alternative scenarios: (1) Epitomyonia followed the broad evolutionary trend of the Palaeozoic Evolutionary Fauna to shift from shallow- to deeper-water settings over time; (2) the dicoelosiid communities could not compete with the large-shelled pentameride communities in continental shelf settings during the Early Silurian; or (3) only the shallow-water Epitomyonia died out in the Late Ordovician mass extinction event, whereas some poorly known deep-water Late Ordovician forms survived into the Early Silurian. Epitomyonia paucitropida n. sp. from the lower Whittaker Formation (late Katian) of the Mackenzie Mountains, northwestern Canada, is reported as the first known Ordovician species of Epitomyonia from the palaeocontinent of Laurentia, characterized by a small shell with weak, transverse dorsal ridges that are most primitive for the genus.
 
Ferns are diverse and abundant in the Lower Liassic flora of the Mecsek Mountains in south Hungary. The morphogenus Cladophlebis Brongniart, 1849, and the genus Todites Seward, 1900, show a high diversity. In the examined material, most of the characteristics used in taxonomy vary, showing transitional forms that cast doubt on the separation of species established on the grounds of either a low number of specimens, a low number of features or uncharacteristic differences.
 
A diverse Triassic marine macrofauna from the Northwestern Caucasus sheds new light on the biotic evolution after the end-Permian mass extinction. In the early Mesozoic, the study area was located on the northern margin of the Neotethys Ocean. Data on stratigraphic ranges of 130 genera of brachiopods, bivalves, ammonoids, corals, and sponges have been used to calculate the changes in two evolutionary rates, namely faunal transformation rate (FTR) and rate of transformation of the taxonomic diversity structure (TTDSR). The FTR demonstrates the changes in the generic composition of assemblages through geologic time, whereas the TTDSR indicates changes in the generic control of the species diversity. The Triassic marine macrofauna of the Northwestern Caucasus was characterized by very high FTR and TTDSR during the Early Triassic through early Late Triassic. The FTR slowed in the Middle Triassic, and accelerated again in the Carnian–Norian. In contrast, the FTR was abnormally slow in the Norian–Rhaetian. A remarkable turnover among macrofauna occurred at the Carnian–Norian transition. Regional sea-level changes were similar to the global eustatic fluctuations. It is difficult to establish their direct connections with changes in the evolutionary rates, although the turnover at the Carnian–Norian boundary coincided with a prominent regressive episode. In general, high evolutionary rates reported for the Triassic marine macrofauna of the Northwestern Caucasus may be explained as a consequence of the devastating end-Permian mass extinction.
 
Lateral and dorsal views of skulls of Psittacosaurus lujiatunensis . Digital images resulting from CT scans of PKUP V1053 (A and B), PKUP V1054 (C and D), and PKUP V1060 (E and F). Scale bar = 50 mm. 
Digital images of endocranial cast of P. lujiatunensis : PKUP V1053 in lateral (A), dorsal (B), and ventral (C) views; PKUP V1054 in lateral (D) and dorsal (E) views. Scale bar = 20 mm. Abbreviations used: ac, anterior semicircular canal; bls, branch of longitudinal sinus; cart, cartilage area of the supraoccipital; cbl, cerebellum; cc, crus commune; lag, lagena; cer, cerebrum; fm, foramen magnum; fv, fenestra vestibuli; ic, internal carotid artery; lc, lateral semicircular canal; mo, medulla oblongata; ob, olfactory bulb; otc, otic capsule; ol, optic lobe; pc, posterior semicircular canal; pit, pituitary fossa; usc, utricular-saccular cavity. Cranial nerves: CN I, olfactory tract; CN II, optic nerve; CN V, trigeminal nerve; CN VII?, ? facial nerve. 
Digital images of endocranial cast of P. lujiatunensis (PKUP V1053) in posterior (A) and ventral (B) views. Scale bar = 10 mm. Abbreviations as in Fig. 2. 
Patterns of endocranium and semicircular canals in ceratopsians in relation to bipedal posture showing differences in pituitary fossa in ventral view and changes in posture during locomotion in lateral view. Figures of Protoceratops and Anchiceratops modified from Hopson (1979); Triceratops modified from Forster (1996). Abbreviations as in Fig. 2. Not to scale. 
Psittacosaurs, small basal ceratopsians with a parrot-like beak, are among the most abundant dinosaurs, but occur only in the Early Cretaceous of East Asia. Although the general morphology of psittacosaurs is fairly well understood, the endocranial anatomy of the group has never been described. New discoveries of well-preserved skulls from the celebrated Liaoning beds in northeastern China provide the material for conducting research on psittacosaur endocranial morphology. Using computed tomography scans of three-dimensionally preserved skulls, this study reveals basic endocranial anatomy of psittacosaurs and provides the first palaeoneurological evidence of psittacosaurs in relation to their behaviour. Although commonly believed to have had a small brain and small eyes, psittacosaurs had relatively high brain/body size ratios that are comparable to those in the large theropod Tyrannosaurus, and probably had a keen sense of smell and acute vision, as evidenced by their enlarged olfactory lobes and bulbous optic lobes. The configuration of the semicircular canals agrees with limb proportions to suggest that psittacosaurs were agile animals, perhaps better able to escape predation by carnivorous dinosaurs on that account. The behavioural adaptations implied by this study may have been crucial for the successful radiation of psittacosaurs during the Early Cretaceous of East Asia.
 
Five species, belonging to three known genera of the family Palaeontinidae (Insecta, Hemiptera), are described from Daohugou in Inner Mongolia, China. They are Fletcheriana colorata n. sp., F. minuta n. sp., Palaeontinodes cf. shabarovi Martynov, 1937, P. cf. angarensis Becker-Migdisova and Wootton, 1965 and Plachutella magica n. sp. Veins ScA and A2 were clearly recognised from P. cf. shabarovi and P. cf. angarensis. The evolutionary trend of this family and some wing structural characteristics are discussed. The discovery of these palaeontinids indicates that the Daohugou strata are probably Early-Middle Jurassic in age.
 
The two oldest species of rhipidognathid conodonts, Rhipidognathus yichangensis and Bergstroemognathus extensus, are described and illustrated from the Early Ordovician Honghuayuan Formation of Guizhou, South China. Both species are interpreted to consist of a septimembrate apparatus. The form species Bergstroemognathus hubeiensis is regarded as a junior synonym of B. extensus. As currently defined, the multi-element species B. hubeiensis includes elements belonging to both B. extensus and R. yichangensis, and hence can no longer be regarded as a valid species.
 
This paper documents abundant and diverse foraminifers from Permian-Triassic (P-Tr) boundary strata and reports for the first time foraminifers from the Lower Triassic Yinkeng and Helongshan Formations in the Meishan section, the global stratotype for the P-Tr boundary. The important foraminifer elements are illustrated and described. Most of these foraminifers were the Permian holdovers, occurring above the main extinction event horizon (base of Bed 25) at Meishan, and thus were survivors from the P-Tr mass extinction. At Meishan foraminifers underwent a second drop in diversity coinciding with the base of Bed 28, exhibiting a comparable extinction pattern to brachiopod faunas. Both foraminifer and brachiopod extinction patterns partly support the view that one potential extinction horizon coincides with the boundary between Beds 27 and 28.
 
No Devonian disparid crinoids have been described from Uzbekistan, although parahexacrinid thecae and assorted columnals have been described in several papers in the past 50 years. Discovery of a cup of Pisocrinus and a thecae of Haplocrinites are the first of these genera known from Uzbekistan. The stratigraphic range of Haplocrinites is revised to be late Early Devonian (Emsian) to Early Carboniferous (Tournaisian) because Silurian species assigned to the genus are based on loose ossicles that morphologically do not belong to the genus. The paleogeographic ranges of Pisocrinus and Haplocrinites are extended into Uzbekistan. Haplocrinites uzbekistanensis n. sp. is described.
 
Varied evidence from the known depth correlated distribution of benthic shelly facies communities in the Ordovician and Silurian clearly shows that graptolite taxonomic diversity increased from the nearshore regions to the shelf margin regions, as well as into the deeper portions of epicontinental basinal areas. We then consider a method for determining the depth distribution of individual graptolite taxa. This method depends on correlating the first appearance of graptolite taxa as one departs from shoreline in terms of the underlying benthos, arrayed in benthic assemblages. The first appearance departing from shoreline corresponds with the upper depth limits of each taxon in terms of the underlying depth indicated by the underlying, associated benthos. The depth of maximum abundance for each taxon should correspond to that point in the increasing relative abundance of that taxon where relative increase in abundance ceases. The lower depth limit of each taxon should correspond to that point on the relative abundance curve where increase in total relative abundance ceases.Using information about the stratigraphic ages indicated by the graptolite faunas, zone-by-zone, combined with that provided by the communities present within the associated and formerly underlying benthic assemblages should provide a more refined stratigraphic zonation than that obtained without combining both.
 
Most models of biotic recovery following mass extinction generally invoke logistic growth, with increasing competition due to resource competition eventually causing a decline in the rate of increase in diversity. Yet one of the most interesting aspects of recoveries is the acquisition of new resources and the expansion of diversity. In other words, the carrying capacity of the ecosystem increases, a process not captured by logistic models. Insights from theories of economic growth, particularly of the sources of economic innovation, suggest an important role for the spillover effects of particular types of ecosystem engineering. The positive feedback effects of these spillovers allow the rapid expansion of biodiversity, as is seen during the late Early Triassic phase of biotic recovery.
 
The Permian-Triassic extinction pattern in the peri-Gondwanan region is documented biostratigraphically, geochemically and sedimentologically based on three marine sequences deposited in southern Tibet and comparisons with the sections in the Salt Range, Pakistan and Kashmir. Results of biostratigraphical ranges for the marine faunas reveal an end-Permian event comparable in timing with that known at the Meishan section in low palaeolatitude as well as Spitsbergen and East Greenland in northern Boreal settings although biotic patterns earlier in the Permian vary. The previously interpreted delayed extinction (Late Griesbachian) at the Selong Xishan section is not supported by our analysis. The end-Permian event exhibits an abrupt marine faunal shift slightly beneath the Permian-Triassic boundary (PTB) from benthic taxa- to nektic taxa-dominated communities. The climate along the continental margin of Neo-Tethys was cold before the extinction event. However, a rapid climatic warming event as indicated by the southward invasion of abundant warm-water conodonts, warm-water brachiopods, calcareous sponges, and gastropods was associated with the extinction event. Stable isotopic values of δ13Ccarb, δ13Corg and δ18O show a sharp negative drop slightly before and during the extinction interval. Sedimentological and microstratigraphical analysis reveals a Late Permian regression, as marked by a Caliche Bed at the Selong Xishan section and the micaceous siltstone in the topmost part of the Qubuerga Formation at the Qubu and Tulong sections. The regression was immediately followed by a rapid transgression beneath the PTB. The basal Triassic rocks fine upward, and are dominated by dolomitic packstone/wackestone containing pyritic cubes, bioturbation and numerous tiny foraminifers, suggesting that the studied sections were deposited during the initial stage of the transgression and hence may not have been deeply affected by the anoxic event that is widely believed to characterise the zenith of the transgression.
 
The recent systematic and stratigraphic revision of all described Mesozoic radiolarian genera ( [0315], [0320] and [0325]) represents the state of the art in the taxonomy of this group. Using this information, we have improved the stratigraphy of Mesozoic families by redefining their ranges at the substage precision.Our analysis shows a clear change in faunal composition at the Permo–Triassic boundary (only 15 families cross: 2 Albaillellaria, 4 Latentifistularia, 3 Entactinaria, 2 Nassellaria and 4 Spumellarian) followed by an explosion at the Middle Triassic. Through the Late Triassic, 32 families began to go extinct, leading to a drastic disappearance of typical Triassic morphotypes. However, the Triassic–Jurassic boundary does not record a similar extinction at the family level; 37 families and subfamilies apparently crossed the boundary. Paradoxically, the revision of genera has shown the survival of only 30 genera at this boundary belonging to 23 families. The reason of such a discrepancy is the virtual crossing of 14 families at Triassic–Jurassic boundary. That is, families having representatives in both the Triassic and Jurassic, but without any record close to the boundary.Similarly, these discontinuities in the ranges are observed throughout the Jurassic and Cretaceous, but especially at the Cretaceous–Paleogene boundary, where 21 families are crossing virtually. Among the orders, Entactinaria presents proportionally the highest number of families with discontinuous ranges. The reason could be related to the scarcity of studies on this group whose systematic classification needs a good knowledge of the initial spicule. We analyze in detail the major discontinuities observed in the range of some families. Explanations considering discontinuous fossil record, limited knowledge on phylogenetic relationships, or possible homeomorphism are proposed.
 
Taphonomical investigations of a micromammalian assemblage were undertaken in the vicinity of a prominent Homo erectus site around Jabalpur and Devakachar, Central India. The sediments consist of thin bedded floodplain deposits and the fauna contains micromammalian remains (teeth, jaws, and bones) in addition to numerous fossils of invertebrate genera. The taphonomical investigations were carried out only on the micromammalian remains by studying breakage pattern, digestion, weathering, gnawing marks, and charring traces. The breakage pattern of skeletal elements, intact small bone elements such as tarsals and metatarsals, and higher proportional representation of limb bones suggest that the fossil assemblage was initially accumulated by a predator and had gone through a significant amount of hydraulic sorting as well. Our results, although based on limited fossil material, may provide a baseline for recognition of owls as agents of accumulation of Narmada micromammal fossils.
 
Neither direct fossil evidence nor consensus exists on the origin of the Ginkgoales and their phylogenetic relationships with other seed plants. The bases for assigning most Palaeozoic leaf fossils to Ginkgoales are shaky. There are eight morphogenera considered more or less well defined and useful for classifying Mesozoic leaf and shoot compressions/impressions, and only two or three morphotaxa of anatomically preserved wood fossils have generally been used. About nine genera of ovulate organs, however, have been reported in the Mesozoic. Whole plant reconstructions suggested for a number of well-preserved ginkgoalean plants are enumerated. Their associated (or connected) organs, and their occurrences and distributions are cited in detail. There are three or four major evolutionary lineages so far recognized among Mesozoic Ginkgoales: the Ginkgo-Grenana-Nehvizdyella lineage, the Karkenia lineage, the Yimaia-Toretzia/Umaltolepis lineage and perhaps the Schmeissneria lineage. Ginkgoales may be classified into five to six families, with a number of accessory morphotaxa and unclassified taxa. The general evolutionary trend among ginkgoaleans is reduction of both vegetative and reproductive organs. The reduction trend is seen clearly in the genus Ginkgo and roughly recapitulated in the developmental sequences of the living species. A similar reduction sequence runs in parallel in other lineages of Ginkgoales. Ginkgoales flourished during Jurassic and Early Cretaceous, but a significant radiation of the group had occurred already in Late Triassic when Ginkgoales were present in high taxonomic diversity and showed considerable morphological innovation. Geographically, Ginkgoales are mainly distributed in Laurasia and probably originated there. The earliest records are from Laurasia as is the relict living fossil. Ginkgoales may have lived in various climates and diverse habitats, although most flourished in mesic and temperate climates, and the Late Cretaceous and Cenozoic ginkgos were largely confined to riparian environments.Advances in micro- and ultrastructure studies and chemical investigations on the cuticle and megaspore membrane of ginkgoalean fossils are also summarized. Further studies in these fields may provide useful information on the ecology and palaeoclimatology of Ginkgoales as well as their taxonomy.
 
Baccaconularia Hughes, Gunderson et Weedon, 2000, from the Furongian Series (Cambrian System) of the north-central USA, has been interpreted as a conulariid cnidarian, based on a suite of gross morphological similarities shared only with other post-Cambrian genera currently assigned to this group. Closely spaced, squarish to subrectangular facial nodes of Baccaconularia are aligned in distinct longitudinal files. Nodes also display a subtler, more or less rectilinear transverse alignment, though this pattern commonly is disrupted by offset parallel to the longitudinal files. In their shape and pattern of arrangement, the nodes of Baccaconularia are most similar to the squarish to elongate nodes of PseudoconulariaBouček, 1939. Longitudinal node files of Baccaconularia may also be compared with the longitudinal facial ridges of Conularia cambria Walcott, 1890 from the Furongian of Wisconsin. Apical angles of Baccaconularia range from approximately 13° to 14.5°. Scanning electron imaging of B. cf. robinsoni shows that its thin, phosphatic skeleton is finely lamellar, with the thickness of individual lamellae measuring approximately 1 μm. The skeleton also exhibits microscopic circular pores and crater-like pits that range from approximately 5 to 10 μm in diameter. These pores and pits are similar in size, geometry, areal density and pattern of arrangement to those of many post-Cambrian conulariids. Microscopic circular pores are documented here for the first time in the genus Archaeoconularia Bouček, 1939 from the Upper Ordovician of the Czech Republic. Although the origin of the pores and pits is open to alternative interpretations, the discovery of these features and fine lamination in Baccaconularia strengthens the argument that this genus is a Cambrian conulariid.
 
The last 10 years (1998–2007) were very productive and important in the study of early angiosperms in northeastern China. The new discoveries of the earliest well-documented records of angiosperms such as Archaefructus, as well as Hyrcantha decussata (= Sinocarpus decussatus), provided fresh knowledge for better understanding the primitive characters of the ancient angiosperms and also their aquatic (or wet) habitat and their herbaceous nature. Some new approaches such as the combination of molecular and morphological characters joined together to place Archaefructus in the angiosperm phylogenetic framework. These fossils demonstrate that we should expect more ancient angiosperms to be found in the pre-Cretaceous which will continue to add important new understanding to the nature of the origin and evolution of the angiosperms.
 
Siliceous “star cobbles”, referred to the enigmatic genus Brooksella, are abundant in the Conasauga Formation of the Coosa River Valley of Alabama and Georgia, USA. Explaining the phylogenetic affinities and taphonomic history of Brooksella has been difficult and contentious. Brooksella has, at times, been referred to: 1, the cnidarian order Scyphomedusae; 2, the cnidarian class Protomedusae (order Brooksellida); 3, as algae; 4, as a trace fossil; and 5, as a feature of inorganic origin.Macroscopic, microscopic, and computer-assisted tomographic analysis of Brooksella from the Conasauga Formation suggests that the “star cobbles” represent exceptionally preserved body fossils of simple construction. Morphology of star cobbles is most consistent with a siliceous (hexactinellid) sponge interpretation. Specimens show wide morphologic variation, including gradational patterns, suggesting that a single species name (Brooksella alternata) should be used to embrace all forms described from the Coosa Valley. B. alternata includes specimens having a variable number of radially disposed lobes divided by radial grooves, and often a central opening inferred to be an osculum on one side. Lobes in many specimens terminate in small openings. Small craterlike structures, inferred to be ostia, are present on the external surface. Radial internal cavities occupy the lobes. Specimens from the Conasauga Formation have siliceous spicules preserved surficially and internally.The three-dimensional nature of most “star cobbles” suggests rapid fossil diagenesis, perhaps mediated by the activities of microbial consortia that quickly formed biofilms around the dead hosts.
 
Oryctocephalid trilobites from Lower Middle Cambrian strata of the eastern Anti-Atlas, Morocco, are the first described Oryctocephalidae known from Africa. They represent the new genus and species Shergoldiella vincenti. However, a similar species was earlier described as Tonkinella sequei Liñán et Gozalo, 1999, from coeval lower Middle Cambrian strata of the Iberian Chains, northern Spain. This Iberian species is imperfectly preserved and assigned herein to Shergoldiella with reservations. If this assignment is correct, it would reinforce earlier suggested correlations between Morocco and Spain. Nevertheless, Shergoldiella suggests a morphocline from a typical oryctocephalid-type morphology towards the Tonkinella-type morphology. Close similarity with Ovatoryctocara ovata suggests a similar stratigraphic position in accordance with earlier suggested intercontinental correlations.
 
Appearances of new fasciculate rugose corals are especially abundant in the Viséan-Serpukhovian interval. Fasciculate corals may have two different origins. (1) Development of colonialism from solitary corals (e.g., Corwenia from Dibunophyllum); (2) morphological changes of the established fasciculate taxa that produce new species or genera. Most new fasciculates occur in shallow-water carbonate shelf environments, but the first occurrence is not always easy to identify from published data. One of the typical environments for their first occurrence during the Viséan was the top of microbial mud-mounds. The microbial mounds perhaps have provided isolated areas of shallower water above the sea bottom. These isolated elevated areas could have provided more favourable environments where pioneer coral colonies may have evolved.All Viséan and Serpukhovian coral assemblages with new colonial corals are dominated by phaceloid species. Consequently, the explanation should be rejected that new colonial corals occur only in empty ecological “niches.” Most of these assemblages also contain solitary corals, including the ancestral “parent species”.All these observations pose new questions concerning the origin of the fasciculate colonial forms in rugosans. There are evidences that single specimens develop colonial forms as a response to environmental factors. Development of colonialism is possible for single specimens of some solitary genera. However, the capacity for developing persistent colonial growth forms depends on multiple factors, including genetic and environmental ones.
 
Polystichum, one of the largest genera of ferns, occurs worldwide with the greatest diversity in southwest China and adjacent regions. Although there have been studies of Chinese Polystichum on its traditional classification, geographic distributions, and even a few on its molecular systematics, its relationships to other species outside China remain little known. Here, we investigated the phylogeny and biogeography of the Polystichum species from China and Australasia. The evolutionary relationships among 42 Polystichum species found in China (29 taxa) and Australasia (13 taxa) were inferred from phylogenetic analyses of two chloroplast DNA sequence data sets: rps4-trnS and trnL-F intergenic spacers. The divergence time between Chinese and Australasian Polystichum was estimated. The results indicated that the Australasian species comprise a monophyletic group that is nested within the Chinese diversity, and that the New Zealand species are likewise a monophyletic group nested within the Australasian species. The divergence time estimates suggested that Chinese Polystichum migrated into Australasia from around 40 Ma ago, and from there to New Zealand from about 14 Ma. The diversification of the New Zealand Polystichum species began about 10 Ma. These results indicated that Polystichum probably originated in eastern Asia and migrated into Australasia: first into Australia and then into New Zealand.
 
Index map showing the region around Lunz-am-See with the localities from which Lunz plants have been recovered. 
Gymnosperm foliage taxa from Lunz. (A) Pterophyllum filicoides (NRMS S148314); (B) Pterophyllum brevipenne (NHMW 1884/D/1209); (C) Nilssoniopteris lunzensis (NHMW 2006B0008/0021); (D) Nilssoniopteris haidingeri (NHMW 2006B0008/0040); (E) Nilssoniopteris angustior (NHMW 1887/I/09); (F) Glossophyllum florinii (NHMW 1883/C/5915); (G) Pseudoctenis cornelii (NHMW 1887/I/33); (H) Nilssonia neuberi (GBAW 2006/004/0014); (J) Nilssonia riegeri (GBAW 1909/003/0589); (K) Nilssonia sturii (NHMW 1885/D/4027). Scale bars: 1 cm. Abbreviations : NRMS: Museum of Natural History, Stockholm, Sweden; NHMW: Museum of Natural History, Vienna, Austria; GBAW: Geological Survey of Austria, Vienna, Austria. 
A recently completed systematic macromorphological and cuticular analysis of compressed gymnosperm foliage from the famous Carnian (Late Triassic) flora from Lunz in Lower Austria has provided detailed circumscriptions of the individual taxa and new information as to their ordinal and generic classification. Although the fossils represent several lineages of gymnosperms, including Cycadales, Bennettitales, Ginkgoales, it appeared that certain idiocuticular and epidermal features such as sunken stomata and papillate surfaces occur widespread among the taxa. The presence of coal seams indicates that the environmental conditions in the Lunz paleoecosystem were stable for longer periods and allowed for the accumulation of larger amounts of plant material. The formation of peat generally requires special conditions, including a stable, high groundwater table, reduced oxygen supply and low pH values, which are typically found in swamps or peat bogs. Many of the idiocuticular and epidermal features recorded for the Lunz plants can be interpreted as adaptations to ecological conditions characteristic of coal-producing peat swamps, e.g., physiological drought, and thus corroborate the interpretation of the Lunz paleoecosystem as a peat-forming environment.
 
The Jabalpur Formation of Jabalpur series, named after Jabalpur city in Central India, is exposed along the Narbada River, in Satpura Basin. The series is divided into the lower Chaugan and the upper Jabalpur stages. The Jabalpur beds occur between Mahadevas and Lametas at Mahadeva Hills, exhibit highest Gondwanan strata, and embody diversified flora. These beds also extend laterally to Bairam and Belkher areas in western part of central India. The highest diversity of the floral assemblage is recorded in the central portion of the basin (Sehora and Hasnapur) whereas the lowest diversity is recorded in Morand River, Parsapani and Tilaksindoor areas. The diversity in floral assemblage indicates the dominance of conifers and pteridophytes along with cycadophytes and certain pteridosperms. The palynofloral assemblage from this formation contains pollen and spores of bryophytic, pteridophytic and gymnospermic groups. The palaeovegetational diversity, biostratigraphic correlation and phytogeographic distribution of the Jabalpur flora are discussed in comparison with various coeval floras of Indian peninsula along with contemporaneous deposits of the other Gondwanan regions. The palaeogeographic analysis suggests that the flora was thriving as mixed vegetation during Early Cretaceous under seasonally hot and dry or alternating with wet and dry condition.
 
Lopingian (Upper Permian) radiolarian cherts are well-developed in shelf basinal facies, slope facies and deep oceanic basins in South China. Investigations during the last 20 years have resulted in the discovery of numerous radiolarian-bearing siliceous sections of the upper Palaeozoic, assignable to 23 radiolarian zones. Lopingian radiolarian sequences in South China are most complete and among the most comprehensively studied regions in the world for the upper Palaeozoic. The Lopingian radiolarian zonation in South China includes six biozones, namely, the Follicuculus bipartitus-F. charveti-F. orthogonus Zone, the Foremanhelena triangula Abundance Zone (Wuchiapingian), the Albaillella protolevis Zone, the Albaillella levis-A. excelsa Zone, the Neoalbaillella ornithoformis Zone and the Neoalbaillella optima Zone (Changhsingian). The first and second zones are assignable to the Wuchiapingian Stage and the third through sixth zones to the Changhsingian. Detailed features and distribution of these radiolarian zones are presented. Furthermore, an international correlation of the South China Lopingian radiolarian zones with those of Japan, Southeast Asia, USA and the Russian Far East region is made. This study suggests that palaeobiogeographically, the Lopingian radiolarian faunas are cosmopolitan in nature, with Asian Lopingian radiolarian faunas and those from North America, Europe and Australia quite similar in taxonomic composition and biozonation.
 
Newly discovered, well-preserved skulls and mandibles from the lowest part of the Early Cretaceous Yixian Formation, western Liaoning Province, China, document the earliest known record of psittacosaurs and provide the basis for recognition of a new species, Psittacosaurus lujiatunensis. This discovery increases the taxonomic diversity of psittacosaurs to eight valid species and extends the stratigraphic range of the family Psittacosauridae from late Barremian-Albian to Hauterivian. Comparative study of the new species with other well-known psittacosaurs indicates that the new taxon is probably the most basal member of the psittacosaur clade now known. This interpretation is in agreement with the temporal distribution of the clade and supports the hypothesis that the Psittacosauridae originated from the basal ceratopsian stem no later than the earliest part of the Cretaceous.
 
The marine conodont fossil species, Hindeodus changxingensis Wang, that has a distinctive morphology, is restricted to a very narrow stratigraphic interval essentially from the Permian–Triassic extinction event through the internationally recognized boundary and into the very earliest Triassic. The species is geographically widespread in the Tethyan Region, from Italy to South China, and serves as a characteristic index fossil to reliably identify this short but critical interval that encompasses the greatest mass extinction of life on earth and the boundary between the Paleozoic and Mesozoic Eras.
 
Based on the fusulinid occurrence records from a computerized database of stratigraphic distribution, statistic comparisons have been conducted to disclose the differences among six subfamilies (constituting the major part of the fusulinid fauna) in generic and specific diversities, rates of speciation and extinction, and changes in the rates and others during the diversification process of the fusulinid fauna in Early and Middle Permian in South China. Our results reveal that: (1) significant differences exist in the diversification pattern of different taxa and (2) the rates of speciation and extinction in Schwagerininae are statistically higher than those in the others. Furthermore, the high rate of speciation in Schwagerininae contributed to the higher rate of diversification of the fusulinid fauna in Early Permian, whereas the lower rate of diversification in the Middle Permian has resulted from the ubiquitous low rates of speciation in all major taxa in the fauna, such as Schwagerininae, Neoschwagerininae, Verbeekininae, Sumatrininae, and Misellininae.
 
Top-cited authors
Shuzhong Shen
  • Nanjing University
Babcock Loren
  • The Ohio State University
Charles Henderson
  • The University of Calgary
Shan-Chi Peng
  • Chinese Academy of Sciences
Maoyan Zhu
  • Nanging Institute of Geology and paleontology, CAS