Abstract

AbstractBenthic graptolites (Graptolithina) were surprisingly common and diverse in the Miaolingian (Cambrian), but have rarely been described in detail. Encrusting and erect growing colonies already evolved and can be differentiated in early Miaolingian faunas. The Rhabdopleuridae with their encrusting colonies provide few fossils, but members of the erect growing, bushy colonies of the Dithecodendridae are more common, at least as fragments indicating considerable fragmentation and transport. In the Wuliuan, the benthic graptolites reached a considerable diversity at the genus level with at least 6 genera appearing in this interval. The most common taxon is the encrusting genus Sphenoecium with its robust colonies, showing a worldwide distribution. Most taxa, however, are known from few records and their biostratigraphical and palaeogeographical distribution cannot be established yet. Erroneously, the widely distributed Tarnagraptus with its conical thecae has often been misidentified as the Ordovician Mastigograptus, but differs considerably in its tubarium construction and both might not be closely related.

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