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Temporal range: Upper Cambrian–Ordovician
Asaphus latus dorsolateral.jpg
Asaphus latus
Scientific classification Red Pencil Icon.png
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Trilobita
Order: Asaphida
Superfamily: Asaphoidea
Family: Asaphidae
Burmeister, 1843
Subfamilies [1]

Asaphidae is a family of asaphid trilobites. Although the first genera originate in Upper Cambrian marine strata, the family becomes the most widely distributed and most species-rich trilobite family during the Ordovician. 754 species assigned to 146 genera are included in Asaphidae.



Most Asaphinae are characteristic of Baltica. Isotelinae genera are concentrated in Laurentia. The genera of Nobiliasaphinae are distributed in tropical Gondwana and South China. The genera of Ogygiocaridinae occur in Avalonia, Gondwana and Baltica. Asaphidae asaphids were already fairly common during the Upper-Cambrian, when 14 genera are known from Australia, North- and South-China. The last members of the family died-out at the end of the Ordovician. [2]

Assigned genera

Asaphidae contains the following genera: [3]

Related Research Articles

The Cambrian Period was the first geological period of the Paleozoic Era, and of the Phanerozoic Eon. The Cambrian lasted 55.6 million years from the end of the preceding Ediacaran Period 541 million years ago (mya) to the beginning of the Ordovician Period 485.4 mya. Its subdivisions, and its base, are somewhat in flux. The period was established as "Cambrian series" by Adam Sedgwick, who named it after Cambria, the Latin name for 'Cymru' (Wales), where Britain's Cambrian rocks are best exposed. The Cambrian is unique in its unusually high proportion of lagerstätte sedimentary deposits, sites of exceptional preservation where "soft" parts of organisms are preserved as well as their more resistant shells. As a result, our understanding of the Cambrian biology surpasses that of some later periods.

Ordovician Second period of the Paleozoic Era 485-444 million years ago

The Ordovician is a geologic period and system, the second of six periods of the Paleozoic Era. The Ordovician spans 41.6 million years from the end of the Cambrian Period 485.4 million years ago (Mya) to the start of the Silurian Period 443.8 Mya.

The PaleozoicEra is the earliest of three geologic eras of the Phanerozoic Eon. It is the longest of the Phanerozoic eras, lasting from 541 to 251.902 million years ago, and is subdivided into six geologic periods : the Cambrian, Ordovician, Silurian, Devonian, Carboniferous, and Permian. The Paleozoic comes after the Neoproterozoic Era of the Proterozoic Eon and is followed by the Mesozoic Era.

Trilobite Class of extinct, Paleozoic arthropods

Trilobites are a group of extinct marine artiopodan arthropods that form the class Trilobita. Trilobites form one of the earliest-known groups of arthropods. The first appearance of trilobites in the fossil record defines the base of the Atdabanian stage of the Early Cambrian period, and they flourished throughout the lower Paleozoic before slipping into a long decline, when, during the Devonian, all trilobite orders except the Proetida died out. The last extant trilobites finally disappeared in the mass extinction at the end of the Permian about 252 million years ago. Trilobites were among the most successful of all early animals, existing in oceans for almost 300 million years.

Laurasia Northern supercontinent that formed part of the Pangaea supercontinent

Laurasia, a portmanteau for Laurentia and Asia, was the more northern of two large landmasses that formed part of the Pangaea supercontinent from around 335 to 175 million years ago (Mya). It separated from Gondwana 215 to 175 Mya during the breakup of Pangaea, drifting farther north after the split and finally broke apart with the opening of the North Atlantic Ocean c. 56 Mya.

Iapetus Ocean ocean that existed in the late Neoproterozoic and early Paleozoic eras

The Iapetus Ocean was an ocean that existed in the late Neoproterozoic and early Paleozoic eras of the geologic timescale. The Iapetus Ocean was situated in the southern hemisphere, between the paleocontinents of Laurentia, Baltica and Avalonia. The ocean disappeared with the Acadian, Caledonian and Taconic orogenies, when these three continents joined to form one big landmass called Euramerica. The "southern" Iapetus Ocean has been proposed to have closed with the Famatinian and Taconic orogenies, meaning a collision between Western Gondwana and Laurentia.

<i>Asaphida</i> Extinct order of trilobites

Asaphida is a large, morphologically diverse order of trilobites found in marine strata dated from the Middle Cambrian until their extinction during the Silurian. Asaphida contains six superfamilies, but no suborders. Asaphids comprise some 20% of described fossil trilobites.

John William Salter

John William Salter was an English naturalist, geologist, and palaeontologist.

Caledonian orogeny

The Caledonian orogeny was a mountain-building era recorded in the northern parts of the British Isles, the Scandinavian Mountains, Svalbard, eastern Greenland and parts of north-central Europe. The Caledonian orogeny encompasses events that occurred from the Ordovician to Early Devonian, roughly 490–390 million years ago (Ma). It was caused by the closure of the Iapetus Ocean when the continents and terranes of Laurentia, Baltica and Avalonia collided.

The Proto-Tethys or Theic Ocean was an ancient ocean that existed from the latest Ediacaran to the Carboniferous.

<i>Pytine</i> Extinct genus of trilobites

Pytine is an extinct genus of asaphid trilobites. Species lived during the later part of the Arenig stage of the Ordovician Period, approximately 478 to 471 million years ago. Various species are found in the Svalbard, Valhallfonna Formation, Olenidsletta, Member, of Spitzbergen, Norway, the Megistaspis (Paramegistaspis) planilimbata Zone of the 'Shumardia Shale' of Sweden, Jujuy Province, Argentina, early Arenig-aged strata of Jiangxi province, China, and Darriwilian-aged strata in Western Hunan province, China. The type species, P. graia, has seven thorax segments, and lacks the rapier-like glabellar spine, that occurs in many other raphiophorids. The Chinese species, by contrast, have only six thoracic segments. So far, only the type species, and one of the Chinese species, P. laevigata, are known from complete specimens.

Kazakhstania, the Kazakh terranes, or the Kazakhstan Block, is a geological region in Central Asia which consists of the area roughly centered on Lake Balkhash, north and east of the Aral Sea, south of the Siberian craton and west of the Altai Mountains. The Junggar basin in Xinjiang, China, is also part of Kazakhstania, though sometimes referred to as the Junggar Block. Because the Kazakh terranes merged during the Late Ordovician as part of the Central Asian Orogenic Belt they are also referred to as the Kazakh Orogen. These terranes are located in what is today Kazakhstan, north-eastern Uzbekistan, northern Kyrgyzstan, south-western China. Today Kazakhstania is surrounded by three large, former continents: to the north-east the Gornostaev Shear Zone separates it from Siberia with which it collided during the Carboniferous; to the north-west is Baltica which lay adjacent to the Kazakh Tourgai terrane but far away from Kazakhstania; to the south and east was Gondwana stretching from the South Pole to the Equator. Not far away from the dispersed Kazakh terranes were South China, North China, and Tarim, but how these continental blocks were positioned relative to Gondwana is not known.


The Pterygometopidae are a family of trilobites, that is known from the Floian to the Katian (Ordovician), and reappears from the Telychian to the Sheinwoodian (Silurian). As part of the Phacopina suborder, its members have schizochroal eyes.

<i>Megistaspis</i> Extinct genus of trilobites

Megistaspis is a genus of trilobites in the order Asaphida and family Asaphidae.

<i>Trinodus</i> Extinct genus of trilobites

Trinodus is a very small to small blind trilobite, a well known group of extinct marine arthropods, which lived during the Ordovician, in what are now the Yukon Territories, Virginia, Italy, Czech Republic, Poland, Denmark, Sweden, Svalbard, Ireland, Scotland, Wales, Iran, Kazakhstan and China. It is one of the last of the Agnostida order to survive.

Raphiophoridae Extinct family of trilobites

Raphiophoridae is a family of small to average-sized trilobites that first occurred at the start of the Ordovician and became extinct at the end of the Middle Silurian.


The Illaenidae are a family of trilobites in the order Corynexochida. 223 currently accepted species in 24 genera are known from the Ordovician. Some scholars include the Panderiidae in the Illaenidae, but this is not generally supported.

Trinucleidae Extinct family of trilobites

Trinucleidae is a family of small to average size asaphid trilobites that first occurred at the start of the Ordovician and became extinct at the end of that period. It contains approximately 227 species divided over 51 genera in 5 subfamilies. The most conspicuous character is the wide perforated fringe of the head.

Famatinian orogeny

The Famatinian orogeny is an orogeny that predates the rise of the Andes and that took place in what is now western South America during the Paleozoic, leading to the formation of the Famatinian orogen also known as the Famatinian belt. The Famatinian orogeny lasted from the Late Cambrian to at least the Late Devonian and possibly the Early Carboniferous, with orogenic activity peaking about 490 to 460 million years ago. The orogeny involved metamorphism and deformation in the crust and the eruption and intrusion of magma along a Famatinian magmatic arc that formed a chain of volcanoes. The igneous rocks of the Famatinian magmatic arc are of calc-alkaline character and include gabbros, tonalites and granodiorites. The youngest igneous rocks of the arc are granites.

Entomaspididae Extinct family of trilobites

Entomaspididae is a family of harpetid trilobites that ranges from the Upper Cambrian to Lower Ordovician of marine strata in China and the United States.


  1. Bell, Mark A.; Braddy, Simon J. (2011). "Cope's rule in the Ordovician trilobite family Asaphidae (order Asaphida): patterns across multiple most parsimonious trees". Historical Biology: 1–8. doi:10.1080/08912963.2011.616201.
  2. J.M. Adrian (2014). "20. A synopsis of Ordovician trilobite distribution and diversity". In D.A.T. Harper; T. Servais (eds.). Early Palaeozoic Biogeography and Palaeogeography. Memoirs of the Geological Society of London. 38. Geological Society of London. p. 490. ISBN   978-1862393738.
  3. S. M. Gon III. "Order Asaphida". Archived from the original on 6 January 2011. Retrieved December 7, 2010.CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)

drawings of many asaphids