Classification

3 subphyla, 8 classes, 26 orders, more than 200 families, more than 1700 genera, thousands of species......the classification of the Brachiopoda is complicated.

Systematic classification - an attempt

Phylum Brachiopoda

Subphylum
Linguliformea
Subphylum
Craniiformea
Subphylum
Rhynchonelliformea
Class
Lingulata
Class
Paterinata
Class
Craniforma
Class
Chileata
Class
Obolellata
Class
Kutorginata
Class
Strophomenata
Class
Rhynchonellata
Order
Lingulida
Siphonotretida
Acrotetida
Order
Paterinida
Order
Craniida
Craniopsida
Trimerellida
Order
Chileida
Dictyonellidina
Order
Obolellida
Order
Kutorginida
Order
Orthotetidina
Triplesiidina
Billingselloidea
Clitambonitidina
Strophomenida
Productida
Order
Protorthida
Orthida
Pentamerida
Rhynchonellida
Atrypida
Spiriferida
Thecideida
Athyridida
Terebratulida
after Williams, Carlson, and Brunton, 2000

Still during the 19th century, authors as famous as Cuvier, Lamarck, Linné, Menke... seemed persuaded that the brachiopods did not form a distinct evolutionary branch. They generally classified them among the Lamellibranchia (Mollusca Bivalvia). It is Hancock who, for the first time, brought closer the brachiopods to the Bryozoa and suggested including them in the subphylum Molluscoides, created by Milne-Edwards. Other authors tended to gather them with the Polychaete worms. However, in older schemes, classification have always relied extensively on the morphology of the fossil shells.

New analysis, including genetic studies of living species, makes the taxonomy change. Nowadays, Brachiopoda, together with Phoronida and Bryozoa, constitute de superphylum Lophophorata.

At all events, even today, taxonomy is still unstable and opinions are divided on certain methods of classification.

Glossary

Systematic (taxonomy) : science of classification of living creatures.

Polychaete worm : marine segmented worm
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