A Short History of the Lunulite Bryozoa
The “lunulites” include two highly convergent, very specialized families of Bryozoa. Their cup-shaped colonies live freely on the surface of sediments, supported, stabilized and cleaned by elongated mandibles of polymorphic member zooids (avicularia), which are also the means of locomotion in some species. Living species of the Family Lunulitidae are known only from Australasian “sand fauna” environments, but abundant faunas are known from the European Cretaceous-to-Pliocene, and the Tertiaries of West Africa, America and Australasia. The Family Cupuladriidae had a similar Tertiary distribution, and is now found worldwide in sand fauna environments, including those of Australia. The distinctive environmental parameters of the lunulites, together with inferred distributions of palaeocurrents and continental plates, are used to test the feasibility of routes and rates of dispersal, and the reasons for extinctions and isolations of faunas in space and time. A few elements of the Recent Australasian fauna may have resulted from episodes of Palaeocene and Miocene migration from Tethyan stocks, but most species appear to be descendants of forms isolated from a once widely distributed, circum-Antarctic fauna. This may have originally dispersed from Central America in several episodes, and by different routes, since the Palaeocene.
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Document Type: Research Article
Publication date: 01 July 1983
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