Brachiopoda Rhynchonellata

Class Rhynchonellata

Alocorthis. Adapted from Paterson & Brock (2003) This very diverse group includes the majority of articulate brachiopods, that is, brachiopods with a hinge between the two halves of the shell. The rhynchonellates range in age from Early Cambrian to Recent. Rhynchonellate shells are biconvex and articulated by teeth and sockets buttressed with brachiophores, as shown in the image of Alocorthis from Paterson & Brock (2003).

Most rhynchonellates have a calcified brachidium of the spiriferid type. The brachidium is a structure which supports the lophophore, the feeding organ of brachiopods. A spiriferid brachidium is a sort of dual-spring shock absorber. It consists of  two coiled structures, like bedsprings, which extend off to either side and are braced against the shell. These brachidia give the lophophore of the rhynchonellates unmatched support and stability. The diagram of this arrangement is from the University of Kansas Ancient Life site.

Composita drawing

The following table lists the taxa which are usually included among the Rhynchonellata, with links to some of the excellent web materials on this taxon:


Cyrtospirifer Beecheria
  Resserella from Nashville Fossils Cyrtospirifer from Virtual Fossils (Univ. di Padua) Pentamerus (source unknown) Beecheria from Catnapin Fossil Gallery
Protorthida Orthida Spiriferida Pentamerida Terebratulida
Unidentified rhynchonellid Unidentified atrypid Composita Costospiriferina Thecidellina
Unidentified rhynchonellid in situ from Southern Arizona Fossils Unidentified atrypid from the Ammonites Page (Wroclaw Univ.) Composita from Paleobytes Costispiriferina from Palfy (2003) Thecidellina from Voskuil (1998)
Rhynchonellida Atrypida Athyridida Spiriferidida



SYSTEMATICS- Invertebrate Paleontology Selected Classification of ...

Katedra biologie FPE ZCU v Plzni Czech)

Ancient Life--13--Rhynchonellid Brachiopod: one of several pages on brachiopods, using a more traditional classification scheme

Early Ordovician orthide brachiopods: Full text of Paterson & Brock 2003).


Pálfy, J (2003), The Pelsonian brachiopod fauna of the Balaton Highland in A Vörös [ed.]. The Pelsonian Substage on the Balaton Highland (Middle Triassic, Hungary). Geol. Hung., Ser. Palaeontol. 55: 139-158.

Paterson, JR & GA Brock (2003), Early Ordovician orthide brachiopods from Mount Arrowsmith, northwestern New South Wales, Australia. Rec. Aus. Mus. 55: 221-230.

Voskuil, R (1998), On a small collection of Hawaiian Brachiopoda (Lophophorata). Internet Haw. Shell News Nov, 1998: 2-13. Republication.

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