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


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.

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Figure 1: The Lower Cambrian vetulicolian Didazoon haoae Shu & Han gen. et sp. nov. from Dabanqiao, Yunnan.
Figure 5: Coiled guts (arrows in a and b) and surface membranes (arrows in cf) of vetulicolians.
Figure 2: The Lower Cambrian vetulicolian Xidazoon stephanus from Haikou, Kunming.
Figure 3: Gill structures of vetulicolians.
Figure 4: The Lower Cambrian vetulicolian Vetulicola cuneata (ae) from Chengjiang and Vetulicola rectangulata (f, g) from Haikou, Kunming.
Figure 6: The Lower Cambrian Yunnanozoon lividum from Chengjiang, Yunnan.


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Supported by Ministry of Sciences and Technology of China, Natural Science Foundation of China, Education Department of China, and National Geographic, USA (D.-G.S., J.H., L.C., X.-L.Z., Z.-F.Z., H.-Q.L., Y.L. and J.-N.L.), the Royal Society, and St. John's College, Cambridge (S.C.M.). H.-L. Luo and S.-X. Hu gave access to material of Pomatrum in Kunming. We thank R. J. Aldridge, P. Janvier and R. P. S. Jefferies for comments, and L.-H. Guo, X.-X. Cheng, H.-X. Guo, S. J. Last and S. Capon for technical assistance.

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Shu, DG., Morris, S., Han, J. et al. Primitive deuterostomes from the Chengjiang Lagerstätte (Lower Cambrian, China). Nature 414, 419–424 (2001).

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