Siliceous Tablets in the Larval Shells of Apatitic Discinid Brachiopods

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The marine bivalved Brachiopoda are abundant throughout the geological record and have apatitic (CaPO4 -rich) or calcitic (CaCO (3) -rich) shells. Vesicles covering the larval valves of living apatitic-shelled discinids contain tablets of silica. The tablets are cemented into close-packed mosaics by spherular apatite in glycosaminoglycans. They are usually lost as vesicles degrade but leave imprints on the underlying apatitic shell. Similar imprints ornament larval surfaces of some of the earliest Paleozoic apatitic-shelled brachiopods and may also be indicators of siliceous biomineralization.

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