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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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.
Additional Vetulicolians. (JPG 119 KB)
a,b, Didazoon haoae, a, ELI-0000197, two superimposed specimen s, upper with intestine in posterior section showing spiral arrangement of contents, lower with excavated anterior section showing gills and possible endostyle; b, ELI-0000199, with incompletely preserved anterior section and recurved posterior.
c,d, Xidazoon stephanus, c, Specimen ELI-0000206, anterior section with mouth region. d, Specimen ELI-0000205A, ventral view of anterior section showing mouth cone and possible endostyle.
e,f, Vetulicola cuneata, e, ELI-0000214, entire specimen with prominent gills. f, ELI-0000485, entire specimen with prominent gill-tubes.
g,h, Vetulicola rectangulata, g, ELI-0000306B, complete specimen; h, ELI-0000318, complete specimen. Scale bars millimetric
Gill structures of Vetulicola cuneata (c,g;d,h;i,m;k,o;q,u;t,x) and V. rectangulata (a,e;b,f;j,n;l,p;r,v;s,w). (JPG 94.2 KB)
a,e, specimen ELI-0000317A; b,f, specimen ELI-0000306B; c,g, specimen ELI-0000207; d,h, specimen ELI-0000215; i,m, specimen ELI-0000207; j,n, specimen ELI-0000337B;
k,o, specimen ELI-0000274; l,p, specimen ELI-0000338A; q,u, specimen ELI-0000214;
r,v, specimen ELI-0000306A; s,w, specimen ELI-0000270; t,x, specimen ELI-0000256.
Scale bars millimetric
Coiled gut of Vetulicola cuneata. (JPG 86.4 KB)
a,b, specimen ELI-0000309A; c,d, specimen ELI-0000255.
Scale bars millimetric
Surface membranes (see arrows) of Vetulicola cuneata (a,g,h,k-n,p-r) and V. rectangulata (b-f,i,j,o). (JPG 130 KB)
a,b, anterior of specimens ELI-0000346 and ELI-0000264;
c-i, posterior and ventral margins of the anterior section of specimens, ELI-0000317A, 317A, 322, 380, 255,320, 260 respectively;
j, membrane along the lateral mid-line tube and gills of specimen ELI-0000338A;
k-o, dorsal °∞fin°± and dorso-posterior margins of specimens ELI-0000320, 319,338A, 261,210 respectively;
p-r, membranes along margins of posterior section of specimens ELI-0000302A, 313, 312B respectively.
Scale bars millimetric
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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). https://doi.org/10.1038/35106514
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