Journal of Iberian Geology

, Volume 43, Issue 1, pp 97–110 | Cite as

Reassessment of a mid-Palaeozoic vertebrate assemblage from Laúndos, Portugal

  • Carole J. Burrow
Research Article



An assemblage of isolated vertebrate elements from northern Portugal, first described in the early twentieth century, was originally considered comparable to Late Silurian faunas from the Lower Old Red Sandstone of the Welsh Borderlands, but with some anomalous identifications of taxa only known from late Early Devonian or younger deposits.


The assemblage was re-evaluated to determine the validity of the original taxonomic assessments and to compare the fauna with associations in other regions to estimate its likely age.


The specimens were examined and photographed, and compared with mid-Palaeozoic taxa from other regions.


A review of the assemblage shows it to comprise acanthodian fin spines, dentigerous jaw bones, tooth whorls, and a dermal plate, as well as invertebrate remains including phyllocarid mandibles and pterygotid eurypterid exoskeletal plates. Acanthodian elements are assigned to Onchus tenuistriatus, Onchus sp., Climatius sp., and Ischnacanthus sp.


In contrast to the benthic invertebrate fauna from the same locality, which shows marked Armorican affinities, the association of the pelagic acanthodians and pterygotid is most comparable with vertebrate assemblages found in the Přídolí and earliest Devonian of the Welsh Borderlands.


Silurian Devonian Acanthodii Eurypterida Central Iberian Zone 


En el presente trabajo se estudia una asociación de restos aislados de vertebrados del norte de Portugal, descrito por primera vez a principios del siglo XX, y que se consideró en su mayor parte comparable a las faunas del Silurico Tardío de la parte inferior de las “Old Red Sandstones” de las fronteras Galesas. La revisión de los restos muestra una asociacion formada por espinas de las aletas dorsales, huesos de la mandíbula dentigeros, dientes en espiral, y una placa dérmica de acantodios, así como restos del invertebrados incluyendo las mandíbulas del filocaridos y placas del exoesqueleto de euriptéridos pterigotoides. Los distintos elementos de Acantodios se han asignan a O. tenuistriatus, Onchus sp., Climatius sp., e Ischnacanthus sp. En contraste con la fauna de invertebrados bentónicos de la misma localidad, que muestran marcadas afinidades armoricanas, la asociación de estos acantodios y pterigotóides pelágicos se asemejan son más comparable con las asociaciones de vertebrados encontrados en el Přídolí y el Devónico más temprano de las fronteras galesas.

Palabras claves

Silúrico Devónico Acanthodii Eurypterida Zona Ibérica Central 



I thank Miguel Ramalho for access to the Delgado collection and help with references, Mike Newman and Jan den Blaauwen for images of NHMUK PV and GSM collection specimens, Emma Barnard for access to NHMUK PV collection specimens, Randy Miller (New Brunswick Museum) for advice on eurypterid anatomy, and the Queensland Museum for provision of basic facilities. I also thank two anonymous reviewers for their helpful comments.


  1. Agassiz, L. (1833–1843). Recherches sur les poissons fossiles. 5 vols and atlas. Neuchâtel: Imprimerie de Petitpierre et Prince.Google Scholar
  2. Agassiz, L. (1844–1845). Monographie de poissons fossiles des Vieux Grès Rouges ou Système Dévonien (Old Red Sandstone) des Îles Britanniques et de Russie. Neuchâtel: Imprimerie de H. Wolfrath.Google Scholar
  3. Bernacsek, G. M., & Dineley, D. L. (1977). New acanthodians from the Delorme Formation (Lower Devonian) of N.W.T, Canada. Palaeontographica A, 158, 1–25.Google Scholar
  4. Blieck, A. (1982). Les grandes lignes de la biogéographie des Hétérostracés du Silurien supérieur–Dévonien inférieur dans le domaine nord-atlantique. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology, 38, 283–316.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Botella, H., Manzanares, E., Ferrón, H. G., & Martínez-Pérez, C. (2014). Obruchevacanthus ireneae gen. et sp. nov., a new ischnacanthiform (Acanthodii) from the Lower Devonian of Spain. Paleontological Journal, 48(10), 1067–1076. doi: 10.1134/s0031030114100025.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Botella, H., Martínez-Pérez, C., & Soler-Gijón, R. (2012). Machaeracanthus goujeti n. sp. (Acanthodii) from the Lower Devonian of Spain and northwest France, with special reference to spine histology. Geodiversitas, 34(4), 761–783. doi: 10.5252/g2012n4a3.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Budil, P., Collette, J., & Manda, Š. (2010). An unusual occurrence of the Laurentian phyllocarid crustacean Ceratiocaris papilio Salter in the lower Ludfordian (Silurian) of Bohemia (peri-Gondwana). Bulletin of Geosciences, 85, 551–564. doi: 10.3140/bull.geosci.1212.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Burrow, C. J. (2011). A partial articulated acanthodian from the Silurian of New Brunswick, Canada. Canadian Journal of Earth Sciences, 48, 1329–1341. doi: 10.1139/e11-023.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Burrow, C. J., Davidson, R. G., den Blaauwen, J. L., & Newman, M. J. (2015). Revision of Climatius reticulatus Agassiz, 1844 (Acanthodii, Climatiidae), from the Lower Devonian of Scotland, based on new histological and morphological data. Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology, 35, e913421. doi: 10.1080/02724634.2014.913421.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Burrow, C., den Blaauwen, J., Newman, M., & Davidson, R. (2016). The diplacanthid fishes (Acanthodii, Diplacanthiformes, Diplacanthidae) from the Middle Devonian of Scotland. Palaeontologia Electronica, 19, 1–83.
  11. Burrow, C. J., Newman, M. J., Davidson, R. G., & den Blaauwen, J. L. (2013). Redescription of Parexus recurvus, an Early Devonian acanthodian from the Midland Valley of Scotland. Alcheringa: An Australasian Journal of Palaeontology, 37, 392–414. doi: 10.1080/03115518.2013.765656.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Burrow, C. J., & Rudkin, D. (2014). Oldest near-complete acanthodian: The first vertebrate from the Silurian Bertie Formation Konservat-Lagerstätte, Ontario. PLOS ONE, 9, 7. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0104171.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Burrow, C. J., & Turner, S. (2010). Reassessment of “Protodusscoticus from the Early Devonian of Scotland. In D. K. Elliott, J. G. Maisey, X. Yu, & D. Miao (Eds.), Morphology, Phylogeny and Paleobiogeography of Fossil Fishes (pp. 123–144). Munich: Verlag Dr Friedrich Pfeil.Google Scholar
  14. Chlupáč, I., Ferrer, E., Magrans, J., Mañé, R., & Sanz, J. (1997). Early Devonian eurypterids with Bohemian affinities from Catalonia (NE Spain). Batalleria, 7, 9–21.Google Scholar
  15. Clarke, J.M., & Ruedemann, R. (1912). The Eurypterida of New York. New York State Museum Memoir 14.Google Scholar
  16. Claypole, E. W. (1884). Preliminary note on some fossil fishes recently discovered in the Silurian Rocks of North America. The American Naturalist, 18, 1222–1226.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Denison, R. H. (1979). Acanthodii. In H.-P. Schultze (Ed.), Handbook of Paleoichthyology, Part 5 (p. 62). Stuttgart: Gustav Fischer Verlag.Google Scholar
  18. Dineley, D. L., & Metcalf, S. J. (1999). Fossil fishes of Great Britain (p. 675). UK: Geological Conservation Review, Joint Nature Conservation Committee Peterborough.Google Scholar
  19. Dupret, V., Carls, P., Martínez-Pérez, C., & Botella, H. (2011). First Perigondwanan record of actinolepids (Vertebrata: Placodermi: Arthrodira) from the Lochkovian (Early Devonian) of Spain and its palaeobiogeographic significance. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology, 310(3), 273–282. doi: 10.1016/j.palaeo.2011.07.019.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Egerton, P. G. (1857). Palichthyologic notes. No. 9. On some fish-remains from the neighbourhood of Ludlow. Quarterly Journal of the Geological Society, 13(282–288), 289.Google Scholar
  21. Egerton, P.G. (1861). British fossils. Memoirs of the geological survey of the United Kingdom (British organic remains) Decade, 10, 51–75.Google Scholar
  22. Gagnier, P.-Y., & Wilson, M. V. H. (1996). An unusual acanthodian from northern Canada: Revision of Brochoadmones milesi. Modern Geology, 20, 235–251.Google Scholar
  23. Gonçalves, E. (2015). Cartografia hidrogeológica das áreas de Valongo, de Paredes e de Arouca. Revista Recursos Hídricos, 36, 25–36.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Gourvennec, R., Plusquellec, Y., Pereira, Z., Piçarra, J. M., Menn, J. L., Oliveira, J. T., et al. (2008). A reassessment of the Lochkovian (Lower Devonian) benthic faunas and palynomorphs from the Dornes region (southern Central Iberian Zone, Portugal). Comunicações Geológicas, 95, 5–25.Google Scholar
  25. Hairapetian, V., Blom, H., & Miller, C. G. (2008). Silurian thelodonts from the Niur Formation, central Iran. Acta Palaeontologica Polonica, 53, 85–95. doi: 10.4202/app.2008.0105.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Hanke, G. F., Wilson, M. V. H., & Lindoe, L. A. (2001). New species of Silurian acanthodians from the Mackenzie Mountains, Canada. Canadian Journal of Earth Sciences, 38, 1517–1529.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Lelièvre, H., Janvier, P., & Blieck, A. (1993). Silurian-Devonian vertebrate biostratigraphy of western Gondwana and related terranes (South America, Africa, Armorica-Bohemia, Middle East). In J. A. Long (Ed.), Palaeozoic Vertebrate Biostratigraphy and Biogeography (pp. 139–173). London: Belhaven Press.Google Scholar
  28. Loydell, D. K., & Frýda, J. (2011). At what stratigraphical level is the mid Ludfordian (Ludlow, Silurian) positive carbon isotope excursion in the type Ludlow area, Shropshire, England? Bulletin of Geosciences, 86, 197–208. doi: 10.3140/bull.geosci.1257.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Mader, H. (1986). Schuppen und Zähne von Acanthodiern und Elasmobranchiern aus dem Unter-Devon Spaniens (Pisces). Göttinger Arbeiten zur Geologie und Paläontologie, 28, 1–59.Google Scholar
  30. Martínez-Pérez, C., Dupret, V., Manzanares, E., & Botella, H. (2010). New data on the Lower Devonian chondrichthyan fauna from Celtiberia (Spain). Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology, 30(5), 1622–1627. doi: 10.1080/02724634.2010.501451.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Miles, R. S. (1973). Articulated acanthodian fishes from the Old Red Sandstone of England, with a review of the structure and evolution of the acanthodian shoulder-girdle. Bulletin of the British museum (natural history) Geology, 24, 113–213.Google Scholar
  32. Miller, R. F. (2007a). Pterygotus anglicus Agassiz (Chelicerata: Eurypterida) from Atholville, Lower Devonian Cambellton Formation, New Brunswick, Canada. Palaeontology, 50, 981–999.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Miller, R. F. (2007b). Nineteenth century collections of Pterygotus anglicus Agassiz (Chelicerata; Eurypterida) from the Campbellton Formation, New Brunswick, Canada. Atlantic Geology, 43, 197–209.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Murchison, R. I. (1839). The Silurian System (p. 576). London: J. Murray.Google Scholar
  35. Murchison, R. I. (1854). Siluria (p. 523). London: John Murray.Google Scholar
  36. Newman, M. J., Burrow, C. J., Davidson, R. G., den Blaauwen, J. L., Jones, R. (2017). Comparison of the vertebrate faunas of the Lower Old Red Sandstone of the Anglo-Welsh Basin with contemporary faunas in Scotland. Proceedings of the Geologists' Association. doi: 10.1016/j.pgeola.2016.12.007.
  37. Newton, E.T. (1892). Note on a new species of Onychodus from the Lower Old Red Sandstone of Forfar. Geological Magazine Decade 3, 9, 51–52.Google Scholar
  38. Oczlon, M. S. (1990). Ocean currents and unconformities: The North Gondwana Middle Devonian. Geology, 18, 509–512.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Perdigão, J. (1977). O Devónico de S. Felix de Laúndos. Comunicacões do servico Geologico de Portugal, 61, 13–32.Google Scholar
  40. Powrie, J. (1864). On the fossiliferous rocks of Forfarshire and their contents. Quarterly Journal of the Geological Society of London, 20, 413–429.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Priem, F. (1911). Sur des poissons et autres fossiles du Silurien supérieur du Portugal. Comunicacões da Commissao do servico Geologico de Portugal, 8, 1–11.Google Scholar
  42. Robardet, M., & Gutiérrez-Marco, J. C. (2002). Silurian. In W. Gibbons & T. Moreno (Eds.), The geology of Spain (pp. 51–66). London: Geological Society of London.Google Scholar
  43. Salter, J. W. (1859). On the anatomy and affinities of the genus Pterygotus and description of new species of Pterygotus. Memoirs of the Geological Survey of the United Kingdom Monograph, 1, 37–105.Google Scholar
  44. Teixeira, C., & Thadeu, D. (1967): Le Dévonien du Portugal. Proceedings of the International Symposium on the Devonian System (pp. 189–199), Calgary.Google Scholar
  45. Tetlie, O. E. (2007). Distribution and dispersal history of Eurypterida (Chelicerata). Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology, 252, 557–574. doi: 10.1017/S0016756806002536.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Tollerton, V. P. (1989). Morphology, taxonomy, and classification of the Order Eurypterida Burmeister (1843). Journal of Paleontology, 63(5), 642–657.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Turner, S., Burrow, C.J., Williams, R.B., & Tarrant, P. (submitted). Welsh borderland bouillabaisse: Lower Old Red Sandstone fish microfossils and their significance. Proceedings of the Geologists Association.Google Scholar
  48. Valiukevičius, J. J. (1992). First articulated Poracanthodes from the Lower Devonian of Severnaya Zemlya. In E. Mark-Kurik (Ed.), Fossil fishes as living animals (pp. 193–214). Academy of Sciences of Estonia: Tallinn.Google Scholar
  49. Valiukevičius, J. J. (2003). Devonian acanthodians from Severnaya Zemlya Archipelago (Russia). Geodiversitas, 25, 131–204.Google Scholar
  50. von Rohon, J. (1893). Die obersilurischen Fische von Oesel. Teil II. Memoires de l’Académie Impériale des Sciences de St Petersbourg VIIe série, 41(38 Mr.), 1–124.Google Scholar
  51. Wang, R. (1993). Taxonomie, Palökologie und Biostratigraphie der Mikroichthyolithen aus dem Unterdevon Keltiberiens, Spanien. Courier Forschungsinstitut Senckenberg, 161, 1–205.Google Scholar
  52. White, E. I. (1961). The Old Red Sandstone of Brown Clee Hill and the adjacent area, II. Palaeontology. Bulletin of the British museum (natural history) Geology, 5, 243–310.Google Scholar
  53. Woodward, A. S. (1891). Catalogue of the fossil fishes in the British museum (natural history). Part II (p. 567). UK: British Museum (Natural History).Google Scholar
  54. Woodward, A. S. (1906). On a Carboniferous fish fauna from the Mansfield district, Victoria. Memoirs of the National Museum, Melbourne, 1, 1–32.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.GeosciencesQueensland MuseumBrisbaneAustralia

Personalised recommendations