Monday, 3 February 2020
They evolved in shallow equatorial seas, as a large diverse and widespread group of armoured, jawless fishes: the Pteraspidomorphi. The first of three groups of ostracoderms.
The Pteraspidomorphi are divided into three major groups: the Astraspida, Arandaspida and the Heterostraci. You'll notice that their taxon names contain 'aspid', which means shield. This is because these early fishes and many of the Pteraspidomorphi possessed large plates of dermal bone at the anterior end of their bodies. This dermal armour was very common in early vertebrates, but it was lost in their descendants.
Arandaspida is represented by two well-known genera: Sacabampaspis, from South America and Arandaspis from Australia. Arandaspis have large, simple, dorsal and ventral head shields. Their bodies were fusiform, which means they were shaped sort of like a spindle, fat in the middle and tapering at both ends. Picture a sausage that is a bit wider near the centre with a crisp outer shell.
Photo by Nobu Tamura (http://spinops.blogspot.com) - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=19460450