The Sinolepidae, a family of antiarchs (placoderm fishes) from the Devonian of South China and eastern Australia
Two new antiarchs are described, from the Late Devonian Hunter Siltstone near Grenfell in south-eastern Australia (Grenfellaspis branagani n.gen., n.sp.), and from the Early-Middle Devonian Dayaoshan Group in Guangxi, south-eastern China (Dayaoshania youngi n.gen., n.sp.). New material is described of Xichonolepis qujingensis Pan & Wang, 1978 from the Middle Devonian of Yunnan, and new interpretations are presented for Sinolepis Liu & Pan, 1958 from the Late Devonian of Jiangsu. All four genera are placed in the family Sinolepidae Liu & Pan, of which the most obvious defining character is the much reduced ventral laminae of the anterior and posterior ventrolateral plates of the trunk armour, and the presumed absence of a median ventral plate. Emended diagnoses are presented for the family Sinolepidae and the genera Xichonolepis and Sinolepis. It is suggested that Grenfellaspis and Sinolepis are immediately related, and the biostratigraphic, biogeographic, and palaeogeographic implications of this relationship are discussed. The vertebrate fauna from the Hunter Siltstone is regarded as the youngest nonmarine vertebrate horizon known from the Devonian of south-eastern Australia. A close palaeogeographic connection between south-eastern Australia and South and North China is indicated for the latest Devonian and earliest Carboniferous (late Famennian-early Tournaisian), which contrasts with the distinctive Devonian vertebrate faunas from the two regions in earlier strata. Other Devonian fossil groups showing a similar biogeographic pattern are considered in the context of competing hypotheses concerning the palaeogeographic relationships of Gondwana and Asia during the Middle Palaeozoic.