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Article: Brachiopods: origin and early history

Palaeontology - Volume 60 Part 5 - Cover Image
Publication: Palaeontology
Volume: 60
Part: 5
Publication Date: September 2017
Page(s): 609 631
Author(s): David A. T. Harper, Leonid E. Popov, and Lars E. Holmer
Addition Information

How to Cite

HARPER, D.A.T., POPOV, L.E., HOLMER, L.E. 2017. Brachiopods: origin and early history. Palaeontology, 60, 5, 609-631. DOI: 10.1111/pala.12307

Author Information

  • David A. T. Harper - Palaeoecosystems Group Department of Earth Sciences Durham University Durham UK (Email:;
  • David A. T. Harper - Department of Geology Lund University Lund Sweden
  • Leonid E. Popov - Department of Geology National Museum of Wales Cardiff UK
  • Lars E. Holmer - Department of Earth Sciences (Palaeobiology) Geocentrum Uppsala University Uppsala 752 36 Sweden (Email:
  • Lars E. Holmer - Early Life Institute & Department of Geology State Key Laboratory for Continental Dynamics Northwest University Xi'an China

Publication History

  • Issue published online: 08 August 2017
  • Manuscript Accepted: 10 May 2017
  • Manuscript Received: 21 September 2016

Funded By

Leverhulme Trust
Wenner‐Gren Foundation
Swedish Research Council. Grant Number: VR 2012‐1658
Department of Geology, Northwest University, Xi'an

Online Version Hosted By

Wiley Online Library (Open Access)
Get Article: Wiley Online Library [Open Access]


Despite many major advances in recent years, three key challenges remain in bringing clarity to the early history of the phylum: (1) identifying the origin, morphology and life modes of the first brachiopods; (2) understanding the relationships of the major groups to each other and higher sister taxa; and (3) unravelling the roles of the Cambrian and Ordovician radiations that set the agenda for much of subsequent brachiopod evolution. Since some 95% of all brachiopod taxa are extinct, the fossil record is the primary source of data to frame and test models for the evolution of the phylum. The acquisition of new, and the redescription of existing faunas, in precise spatial and temporal frameworks, using new and well‐established analytical and investigative techniques, are as important as ever.

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