The mid-Paleozoic was punctuated by a rapid radiation of durophagous (shell-crushing) predators. These new predators were primarily placoderm and chondrichthyan fishes but probably also included phyllocarid and eumalacostracan arthropods. Coincident with the radiation of these durophages, beginning in the mid-Devonian, there was an increase in the frequency of predation-resistant morphologies in a variety of marine invertebrate taxa. Among bellerophontid molluscs, disjunct coiling disappeared and umbilici became less common while the frequency of genera with sculpture increased. The abundance of brachiopod genera with spines on one or both valves increased dramatically. Sculpture became more pronounced and common among genera of coiled nautiloids. Inadunate and camerate crinoids showed a marked increase in spinosity, and all three crinoid subclasses tended to develop thicker thecal plates.
Trends toward increasing relative frequencies of predation-resistant features were formed in different ways. Bellerophontid genera lacking predation-resistant features tended to go extinct, leaving the sculptured, tighdy coiled forms as the predominant forms. Among Brachiopoda, the radiation of productids provided the tremendous increase in numbers of spinose genera. Among crinoids, predation-resistant features were acquired through evolution within established clades.
These observations suggest that predation by shell-crushing predators has been an important control on the morphology and composition of the marine invertebrate fauna since at least the Middle Devonian. The mid-Paleozoic radiation of durophages and response of the marine fauna was in many respects similar to events of the Mesozoic Marine Revolution, in effect, the Paleozoic precursor to that event.