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Things to remember…
 Anatomy
 Shell morphology
 Classification
 Symmetry
 Morphological difference with bivalves
 Paleoecology
 Geologic history
 Solitary and exclusively marine organisms

 most successful benthic macroinvertebrates of the Paleozoic.

 They are typified by two mineralized valves which enclose

most of the animal.

 Brachiopods are filter feeders, which collect food particles on

a ciliated organ called the lophophore.

 One of the most distinguishing features of brachiopods is the

presence of a pedicle, a fleshy stalk-like structure that aids
the animal in burrowing and maintaining stability.
Brachiopoda anatomy
 Secrete shell composed of two valves (shells)

 Valves are not equivalve (mirror images of each other)

 Valves equilateral (if you split the valves down the middle
length-wise, mirror images of each other).

 Consequently, brachiopods are bilaterally symmetrical and

consist of bivalved shells.

 Brachiopods distinguished from pelecypods (clams) by

inequal valves and by bilateral symmetry.
Brachiopod Internal
Shell Morphology
Brachiopod External
Shell Morphology
 Brachiopods are separated into three subphylum:
 Linguiliformea
 Valves are not hinged by teeth & socket
 Shell is chitonophosphatic
 Pedicle is muscular
 Craniiformea
 Valves are not hinged by teeth & socket
 Shell is calcareous
 Pedicle is reduced
 Rhynchonelliformea
 Valves are hinged by teeth & socket
 Shell is calcereus
 Pedicle is made up of a dead horny material
Brachiopod symmetry

Yes No
Difference between brachiopods
and bivalves / pelecypods
Brachiopods Bivalves / Pelecypods
Inequivalved Mostly equilaved
Equilateral Inequilateral
Pedicle and brachial valves Right and left valves
Plane of Symmetry across valves Plane of Symmetry between
and through the beak / umbo valves
Pedicle opening present No pedicle opening present
Teeth in one valve, sockets in Teeth and socket in both valves
opposite (except in inarticulate)
Valves open and close by Valves open by ligaments
 All brachiopods are filter feeding, sessile (non-mobile) bottom

 They are exclusively marine, but inhabit a variety of bottom

environments at various depths and latitudes.

 Brachiopods are either free-living or rooted by their pedicle to

the substrate.

 During life, they can be oriented either vertically, inclined, or

horizontally to the substrate.

 Typically brachiopods oriented vertically during life will have

equally biconvex shells, whereas inclined and horizontally
oriented ones will be unequal inflation being plano-convex,

 Living totally buried within the

sediment. Brachiopods living
this way are oriented posterior
downward, and are usually
stabilized by their downward
projecting pedicle.

 Lingulid inarticulates are

among the only brachiopods to
exploit this infaunal

 In this position, the animal is oriented vertically

(posterior downward) and is only partially buried
in the sediment; they may or may not be attached
by their pedicle.
 In this position, the animal is in effect floating
horizontally on (or partially within) the sediment with
the pedicle valve as the lower valve.

 Generally, reclining brachiopods have a concavo-

convex or plano-convex shape.

 Other modifications include large surface area and

spines to help the critter float.

 The pedicle opening is usually not present.


 In this position, the brachiopod is attached either to

the sediment or other object (e.g., marine plants) by
their pedicle.
Geologic history

 long-lived Phylum ranging from the

Cambrian to Present.

 Very common in the Palaeozoic and

slightly less so in the Mesozoic but
still remain important.

 In the Present not many forms are

left with approximately 70 Genera.

 Over 2500 fossil Genera are

Bivalve vs. Brachipods
Bivalve defeated Brachs…

 Rise in diversity of filter feeding bivalves, which

have ousted the brachiopods from their former

 Increasing disturbance of sediments by roving

deposit feeders (including many burrowing bivalves);

 Increased intensity and variety of shell-crushing

Another viewpoint…
“ships that pass in the night” (Gould, 1980)

 Bivalve has nothing to do with decline in Brachs.

 End-Permian extinction affected both groups

 A recent study (Payne et al., 2014) shows that bivalve

require more metabolic energy

 That energy came from new habitats, not from

displacement of Brachs

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