Stem chondrichthyan microfossils from the Lower Old Red Sandstone of the Welsh Borderland

Carole J Burrow, Susan Turner


Placoid and polyodontode scales of stem chondrichthyans have been found in the early Lochkovian “Ditton Group” of the Brown Clee Hill district, Shropshire, England and at Talgarth, south Wales. One of the forms is assigned to a new species of Altholepis Karatajūtė-Talimaa, 1997, a genus already recognised from Lochkovian shallow marine deposits in Celtiberia, Spain and the Northwest Territories, Canada as well as the type locality in Podolia, Ukraine. Altholepis salopensis sp. nov. is based on small polyodontode scales with typically three to eight high odontodes; the scale form was previously considered to belong to acanthodian “Nostolepis”   robusta (Brotzen, 1934). The structure of other scales formerly assigned to “Nostolepisrobusta has led us to erect a new genus Jolepis for this scale form, which differs from Altholepis in lacking an ordered layout of odontodes. Jolepis robusta (Brotzen, 1934), originally (and possibly still) considered to be an acanthodian, is also known from the Baltic countries, Russia, and northern Germany (ex erratic limestones). Scales of acanthodian Parexus recurvus Agassiz, 1845, and/or possibly from the stem chondrichthyan Seretolepis elegans Karatajūtė-Talimaa, 1968 (scales of these two taxa are barely distinguishable), and of stem chondrichthyan Polymerolepis whitei Karatajūtė-Talimaa, 1968 are also present. Altholepis, Jolepis gen. nov., Seretolepis Karatajūtė-Talimaa, 1968 and Polymerolepis Karatajūtė-Talimaa, 1968 are found in marine deposits elsewhere; the British occurrence of these taxa adds to the debate on the sedimentological origins of the Lower Old Red Sandstone deposits in the Welsh Borderland. The geographic range of several early sharks is now known to extend around the Old Red Sandstone continent and beyond.


Scale histology; Palaeobiogeography; Lower Devonian (Lochkovian), Stem gnathostomes; Altholepis; Polymerolepis; British Isles

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