Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Type



Eberly College of Arts and Sciences


Geology and Geography

Committee Chair

James Lamsdell

Committee Co-Chair

Kathleen Benison

Committee Member

Kathleen Benison

Committee Member

Curtis Congreve


The trilobite order Harpetida has long been easily recognized but poorly understood. This study seeks to better understand the phylogenetic relationships within Harpetida, with a view towards using this group to explore the relationship between extinction intensity and disparity. The harpetid response to the Late Ordovician mass extinction is of particular interest. A discrete morphological character matrix was created from the formal descriptions of harpetids in the published trilobite literature, and refined using first-hand observations of harpetid fossils. The final matrix consists of 76 discrete characters, including 69 cephalic characters, three thoracic characters, and four pygidial characters. This matrix is the first attempt of its kind to characterize the morphology of Harpetida as a whole, rather than focusing on individual harpetid genera. Exemplar species from a broad selection of harpetid genera, along with ptychopariid and redlichiid out groups, were included in the matrix. These taxa were coded from published figures and from direct observation of specimens held in the collections of the Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History. From the matrix, a hypothetical tree of harpetid phylogenetic relationships was generated. The topology of this tree indicates support for harpetid monophyly but throws doubt onto the previous hypotheses of the internal relationships of the group. Disparity analysis of Harpetida reveals a decline in morphological diversity following Late Ordovician, with slow or nonexistent recovery.