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Introduction

The Astraspida, or astraspids, are a small group of fossil, armored, fossil jawless vertebrates, which lived in the Middle Ordovician (about 450 million years ago) in North America. They are placed among the Pteraspidomorphi because of the large dorsal and ventral shield of their head armor. They are represented by a single genus, Astraspis, including possibly two species, A. desiderata and A. splendens, but their remains are fairly abundant in Ordovician sandstones of the USA (Colorado, Arizona, Oklahoma, Wyoming) and Canada (Quebec). The head armor of Astraspis is rather massive, with a series of ten gill openings lining the margin of the dorsal shield, and laterally placed eyes. The dorsal shield is ribbed by strong longitudinal crests, and the tail is covered with large, diamond-shaped scales.

 

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