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Temporal range: Lower Cambrian–Recent
Lingula anatina from Stradbroke Island, Australia
Scientific classification Red Pencil Icon.png
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Brachiopoda
Subphylum: Linguliformea
Williams et al. 1996

Linguliformea is a subphylum of inarticulate brachiopods. [1] These were the earliest of brachiopods, ranging from the Cambrian into the Holocene. They rapidly diversified during the Cambrian into the Ordovician, but most families became extinct by the end of the Devonian.

The articulation in these brachiopods is lacking. These brachiopods have adductor and oblique muscles, but no diductor muscles. The anus is located at the side of the body. The pedicle is a hollow extension of the ventral body wall. Posterior body wall separates dorsal and ventral mantles.

The shells are usually made up of apatite (calcium phosphate), however rare cases have calcite or aragonite shells.

See also

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Hyolitha Palaeozoic lophophorates with small conical shells

Hyoliths are animals with small conical shells, known as fossils from the Palaeozoic Era. They are lophophorates, a group which includes the brachiopods.


A sclerite is a hardened body part. In various branches of biology the term is applied to various structures, but not as a rule to vertebrate anatomical features such as bones and teeth. Instead it refers most commonly to the hardened parts of arthropod exoskeletons and the internal spicules of invertebrates such as certain sponges and soft corals. In paleontology, a scleritome is the complete set of sclerites of an organism, often all that is known from fossil invertebrates.

Bivalvia Class of molluscs

Bivalvia, in previous centuries referred to as the Lamellibranchiata and Pelecypoda, is a class of marine and freshwater molluscs that have laterally compressed bodies enclosed by a shell consisting of two hinged parts. Bivalves as a group have no head and they lack some usual molluscan organs like the radula and the odontophore. They include the clams, oysters, cockles, mussels, scallops, and numerous other families that live in saltwater, as well as a number of families that live in freshwater. The majority are filter feeders. The gills have evolved into ctenidia, specialised organs for feeding and breathing. Most bivalves bury themselves in sediment where they are relatively safe from predation. Others lie on the sea floor or attach themselves to rocks or other hard surfaces. Some bivalves, such as the scallops and file shells, can swim. The shipworms bore into wood, clay, or stone and live inside these substances.

Craniata (brachiopod) Class of marine lamp shells

Craniata is a class of brachiopods originating in the Cambrian period and still extant today. It is the only class within the subphylum Craniiformea, one of three major subphyla of brachiopods alongside linguliforms and rhynchonelliforms. Craniata is divided into three orders: the extinct Craniopsida and Trimerellida, and the living Craniida, which provides most information on their biology. Living members of the class have shells which are composed of calcite, though some extinct forms my have aragonite shells. The shells are inarticulate and are usually rounded in outline. There is no pedicle, with the rear edge of the body cavity having the form of a smooth and flat wall perforated by the anus.

Halkieriid Family of incertae sedis

The halkieriids are a group of fossil organisms from the Lower to Middle Cambrian. Their eponymous genus is Halkieria, which has been found on almost every continent in Lower to Mid Cambrian deposits, forming a large component of the small shelly fossil assemblages. The best known species is Halkieria evangelista, from the North Greenland Sirius Passet Lagerstätte, in which complete specimens were collected on an expedition in 1989. The fossils were described by Simon Conway Morris and John Peel in a short paper in 1990 in the journal Nature. Later a more thorough description was undertaken in 1995 in the journal Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London and wider evolutionary implications were posed.

The Obolellata are a class of Rhynchonelliform brachiopods with two orders, Obolellida and Naukatida. They are essentially restricted to the lower-middle Cambrian.

<i>Lingula</i> (brachiopod) Genus of brachiopods within the class Lingulata

Lingula is a genus of brachiopods within the class Lingulata. Lingula or forms very close in appearance have existed possibly since the Cambrian. Like its relatives, it has two unadorned organo-phosphatic valves and a long fleshy stalk. Lingula lives in burrows in barren sandy coastal seafloor and feeds by filtering detritus from the water. It can be detected by a short row of three openings through which it takes in water (sides) and expels it again (middle).


Halwaxiida or halwaxiids is a proposed clade equivalent to the older orders Sachitida He 1980 and Thambetolepidea Jell 1981, loosely uniting scale-bearing Cambrian animals, which may lie in the stem group to molluscs or lophotrochozoa. Some palaeontologists question the validity of the Halwaxiida clade.

The small shelly fauna, small shelly fossils (SSF), or early skeletal fossils (ESF) are mineralized fossils, many only a few millimetres long, with a nearly continuous record from the latest stages of the Ediacaran to the end of the Early Cambrian Period. They are very diverse, and there is no formal definition of "small shelly fauna" or "small shelly fossils". Almost all are from earlier rocks than more familiar fossils such as trilobites. Since most SSFs were preserved by being covered quickly with phosphate and this method of preservation is mainly limited to the late Ediacaran and early Cambrian periods, the animals that made them may actually have arisen earlier and persisted after this time span.

Since 1990 there has been intense debate among paleontologists about the evolution in the Early Cambrian period of the "super-phylum" Lophotrochozoa, which is thought to include the modern molluscs, annelid worms and brachiopods, as well as their evolutionary "aunts" and "cousins".

Phoronid Phylum of marine animals, horseshoe worms

Phoronids are a small phylum of marine animals that filter-feed with a lophophore, and build upright tubes of chitin to support and protect their soft bodies. They live in most of the oceans and seas, including the Arctic Ocean but excluding the Antarctic Ocean, and between the intertidal zone and about 400 meters down. Most adult phoronids are 2 cm long and about 1.5 mm wide, although the largest are 50 cm long.

Brachiopod Phylum of marine animals also known as lamp shells

Brachiopods, phylum Brachiopoda, are a phylum of trochozoan animals that have hard "valves" (shells) on the upper and lower surfaces, unlike the left and right arrangement in bivalve molluscs. Brachiopod valves are hinged at the rear end, while the front can be opened for feeding or closed for protection. Two major groups are recognized, articulate and inarticulate. The word "articulate" is used to describe the tooth-and-groove features of the valve-hinge which is present in the articulate group, and absent from the inarticulate group. This is the leading diagnostic feature (fossilizable), by which the two main groups can be readily distinguished. Articulate brachiopods have toothed hinges and simple opening and closing muscles, while inarticulate brachiopods have untoothed hinges and a more complex system of muscles used to keep the two valves aligned. In a typical brachiopod a stalk-like pedicle projects from an opening in one of the valves near the hinges, known as the pedicle valve, keeping the animal anchored to the seabed but clear of silt that would obstruct the opening.

Evolution of brachiopods The origin and diversification of brachiopods through geologic time

The origin of the brachiopods is uncertain; they either arose from reduction of a multi-plated tubular organism, or from the folding of a slug-like organism with a protective shell on either end. Since their Cambrian origin, the phylum rose to a Palaeozoic dominance, but dwindled during the Mesozoic.

The Kirengellids are a group of problematic Cambrian fossil shells of marine organisms. The shells bear a number of paired muscle scars on the inner surface of the valve.

Acrotretida Extinct order of brachiopods

Acrotretida is an extinct order of linguliform brachiopods in the class Lingulata. They lived from the Lower Cambrian to the Middle Devonian. Acrotretida contains the sole superfamily Acrotretoidea. Many acrotretides have a tall and conical ventral valve with a pedicle opening at the apex, while the musculature is simplified relative to other linguliforms. The shell has a rounded outline, and is usually phosphatic like other linguliforms.

The cephalopods have a long geological history, with the first nautiloids found in late Cambrian strata, and purported stem-group representatives present in the earliest Cambrian lagerstätten.


Rhynchonelliformea is a major subphylum and clade of brachiopods. It is equivalent to the former class Articulata, which was used previously in brachiopod taxonomy. Articulate brachiopods have many anatomical differences relative to "inarticulate" brachiopods of the subphyla Linguliformea and Craniformea. Articulates have hard calcium carbonate shells with tongue-and-groove hinge articulations and separate sets of simple opening and closing muscles.

Mobergella is a millimetric Lower Cambrian shelly fossil of unknown affinity, usually preserved in phosphate and particularly well known from Swedish strata, where it is diagnostic of lowermost Cambrian rocks. Originally interpreted as a monoplacophoran, the circular, cap-shaped shell resembles a hyolith operculum, with concentric rings on its upper surface, and seven pairs of internal muscle scars. It is never found in association with a conch, and its affinity therefore remains undetermined. Nevertheless, its heavy musculature does seem to indicate that it functioned as an operculum.

Mickwitziids are a Cambrian group of shelly fossils with originally phosphatic valves, belonging to the Brachiopod stem group, and exemplified by the genus Mickwitzia – the other genera are Heliomedusa and Setatella. The family Mickwitziidae is conceivably paraphyletic with respect to certain crown-group brachiopods.

Trimerellida Extinct order of brachiopods

Trimerellida is an extinct order of craniate brachiopods, containing the superfamily Trimerelloidea and the families Adensuidae, Trimerellidae, and Ussuniidae. Trimerellidae is a small but widespread family of warm-water brachiopods ranging from the mid Ordovician (Llandeilo) to late Silurian (Ludlow). Adensuidae and Ussuniidae are monogeneric families restricted to the mid to late Ordovician of Kazakhstan.


  1. Torres-Martínez,M.A.; Sour-Tovar,F. (2016). "Braquiópodos discínidos (Lingulida, Discinoidea) de la Formación Ixtaltepec, Carbonífero del área de Santiago Ixtaltepec, Oaxaca" (PDF). Boletín de la Sociedad Geológica Mexicana. 68: 313–321.