Nature 414, 419-424 (22 November 2001) | doi:10.1038/35106514; Received 1 June 2001; Accepted 13 September 2001

Primitive deuterostomes from the Chengjiang Lagerstätte (Lower Cambrian, China)

See associated Correspondence: Yang et al. , Nature 546, 210 (June 2017)

D.-G. Shu1, S. Conway Morris2, J. Han1, L. Chen1, X.-L. Zhang1, Z.-F. Zhang1, H.-Q. Liu1, Y. Li1 & J.-N. Liu1

  1. Early Life Institute and Department of Geology, Northwest University, Xi'an, China
  2. Department of Earth Sciences, University of Cambridge, Downing Street, Cambridge CB2 3EQ, UK

Correspondence to: D.-G. Shu1 Correspondence and requests for materials should be addressed to D.-G.S. (e-mail: Email:


Cambrian fossil-Lagerstätten (sites of exceptional fossil preservation), such as those from Chengjiang (Lower Cambrian) and the Burgess Shale (Middle Cambrian), provide our best window into the Cambrian 'explosion'. Such faunas are known from about 40 localities, and have yielded a widely disparate series of taxa ranging from ctenophores to agnathan fish. Recent excavations of the Chengjiang fossil-Lagerstätte, known from a series of sites near Kunming in Yunnan, south China, have resulted in the discovery of several new forms. In conjunction with material described earlier, these provide evidence for a new group of metazoans, the vetulicolians. Several features, notably a series of gill slits, suggest that this group can throw light on an early stage of deuterostome diversification.