Pteraspidomorphs (Vertebrata), the Old Red Sandstone, and the special case of the Brecon Beacons National Park, Wales, U.K.

Alain Blieck, David K. Elliott

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Pteraspidomorphi are Ordovician to Devonian, jawless vertebrates devoid of paired fins that have developed a variety of phenotypes of mostly demersal aquatic animals of the neritic province. Some, however, were active swimmers in the water column or near to the surface. They show many convergences in adaptive variations with the other ossified agnathan vertebrates or ostracoderms, that is the osteostracans, galeaspids and pituriaspids. They are traditionally known as Old Red Sandstone (ORS) fish, and have been interpreted as fresh-water inhabitants. However, recent palaeoecological and sedimentological analyses have shown that they were near-shore, shallow-marine fishes in the Ordovician, that they occupied marine environments on the Silurian Baltic platform and a wide variety of environments in the Devonian, including those of the ORS (lagoonal, estuarine, deltaic, and open platform). Their peak of diversity was reached in the Early Devonian, and they all disappeared before the Frasnian-Famennian boundary biotic crisis. Within Earth sciences, they are used in biostratigraphy, palaeoecology, and palaeobiogeography. They are good tools for dating siliciclastic sedimentary series of the Silurian and Devonian, including the ORS, and they are good markers of the margins of Ordovician to Devonian palaeocontinents (Laurentia, Baltica, Siberia, Gondwana).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)438-446
Number of pages9
JournalProceedings of the Geologists' Association
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 2017


  • Brecon Beacons National Park
  • Devonian
  • Heterostraci
  • Old Red Sandstone
  • Pteraspidomorphs

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geology
  • Palaeontology


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