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Middle and Late Cambrian sponge spicules from Hunan, China

  • Dong Xiping (a1) and Andrew H. Knoll (a2)


Abundant and well-preserved assemblages of disarticulated sponge spicules occur in Middle and Late Cambrian platform carbonates of western Hunan, China. Assemblages recovered from 11 stratigraphic horizons include calcisponges, demosponges, and hexactinellids. Hexactinellida, in particular, are both abundant and diverse in Upper Cambrian carbonates. Comparison with spicule assemblages from Australia indicates that many of these taxa have long stratigraphic ranges, limiting their use in correlation. The morphological diversity of these spicules exceeds that known for living siliceous sponges, supporting the observation that during the Cambrian radiation, sponges, like other metazoans, evolved a variety of architectural forms not observed in later periods. Like conodonts, individual sponges can produce more than one spicule form; thus, an “apparatus genus” concept based on multiple cooccurring elements may eventually prove useful in the biostratigraphic and paleobiological interpretation of disarticulated sponge spicules. Four distinctive forms are recognized as new taxa: Australispongia sinensis new genus and species, Flosculus gracilis new genus and species, Pinnatispongia bengtsoni new genus and species, and Nabaviella paibiensis new species.



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Middle and Late Cambrian sponge spicules from Hunan, China

  • Dong Xiping (a1) and Andrew H. Knoll (a2)


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