Lingulidae are exclusively infaunal (living in the sediment at the bottom of the ocean) in soft substrates from the intertidal zone to a depth of about 1,315 ft (400 m); they have a worldwide distribution within the 40° belt from temperate to equatorial areas. Glottidia occurs only in the Americas and Lingula in the waters of the other continents. The Discinidae are epifaunal (living on top of the bottom surface) on hard substrates and have a warm temperate to tropical distribution. They are found mainly on the continental shelf, except for the cosmopolitan deep-sea Pelagodiscus, which occurs from northern to southern high latitudes at depths between about 328 ft to about 18,044 ft (100 m to about 5500 m). The Crani-idae are epifaunal on hard substrates and are widely distributed from northern to southern high latitudes, from shallow waters to a depth of about 7,546 ft (2,300 m) on the bathyal slope.

The life span of most animals in this group of brachiopods appears to be from 14 months to less than two years for Glot-tidia, to 6-10 years for Lingula and the discinids.

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