Noailles F, Lefebvre B, Kašička L; Vol. 89, issue 3, pages 451 - 476The morphology of the Late Ordovician solutan Dendrocystites is reevaluated based on more than 300 specimens from the Letná and Zahořany formations (Prague Basin, Czech Republic). This genus is reported for the first time from the Bohdalec Formation, and its presence is confirmed in the Vinice Formation. The morphology of all specimens of the stratigraphically older species D. barrandei (Sandbian) is identical to that of small to medium-size individuals of D. sedgwicki (Katian). Distinctive characters of D. sedgwicki occur only in the largest specimens, and are all size-related (more asymmetrical thecal outlines, stronger ornamentation, rosetting pattern of thecal plates, proliferation of platelets in the proxistele). Consequently, the transition from D. barrandei to D. sedgwicki is interpreted as the result of heterochronic processes, with the largest individuals of D. sedgwicki displaying hyperadult morphologies (hypermorphosis). Dendrocystites is locally abundant in both the Letná and Zahořany formations, but extremely rare in the deeper deposits of the Vinice and Bohdalec formations. This pattern coincides closely with first order fluctuations of the sea-level in the Prague Basin. The life orientation and implied feeding strategy of Dendrocystites and other solutans are both critically discussed. Several independent lines of evidence suggest that solutans were more likely detritus-feeders. Finally, it is proposed that two morphologically distinct patterns of dististele organization were elaborated independently from the polyplated, undifferentiated stalk-like appendage of Coleicarpus (plesiomorphic condition). Consequently, amajor subdivision of the class Soluta into two main clades (Dendrocystitida ord. nov. and Syringocrinida ord. nov.) is proposed. The monophyly of each order is supported by apomorphies based primarily on the organization of the dististele and the morphology of the periproct. “Dendrocystites” rossicus is reinterpreted as belonging to an unknown genus of syringocrinids, whereas Heckericystis kuckersiana may represent a third species of Dendrocystites.
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