Skip to main content

Thank you for visiting nature.com. You are using a browser version with limited support for CSS. To obtain the best experience, we recommend you use a more up to date browser (or turn off compatibility mode in Internet Explorer). In the meantime, to ensure continued support, we are displaying the site without styles and JavaScript.

Reinterpretation of Yunnanozoon as the earliest known hemichordate

Abstract

THE Chengjiang fossil Lagerstätte is one of the earliest and most important palaeontological sites from the Phanerozoic era1,2, about 530 million years ago3. It yields extremely abundant and remarkably preserved soft-bodied fossils and shells with soft parts of various kinds, including bradoriids4–6, trilobites7,8, crustaceans9, brachiopods, worms, sponges, algae and many unknown forms10–13. One of these fossils is Yunnanozoon14, which we reinterpret here as the earliest known hemichordate. Possessing half of the characteristic chordate features and providing an anatomical link between invertebrates and chordates15, Hemichor-data is a minor but important phylum in evolutionary biology. Hemichordates comprise two main groups: the enteropneusts, or 'acorn worms', and the pterobranchs. Apart from the presumable inclusion of graptolites in pterobranchs16–19, there are very few hemichordate fossils2,17,20. Although Yunnanozoon is superficially similar to the chordates21, its typical tripartite body plan is broadly consistent with that of living balanoglossid hemichor-dates (enteropneusts).

Your institute does not have access to this article

Relevant articles

Open Access articles citing this article.

Access options

Buy article

Get time limited or full article access on ReadCube.

$32.00

All prices are NET prices.

References

  1. Conway Morris, S. Nature 361, 219–225 (1993).

    ADS  Article  Google Scholar 

  2. Chen, J., Ramsköld, L. & Zhou, G. Science 264, 1034–1068 (1994).

    Google Scholar 

  3. Bowring, S. A. et al. Science 261, 1293–1298 (1993).

    ADS  CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  4. Huo, S. & Shu, D. Cambrian Bradoriida of South China (Northwest Univ. Press, Xian, 1985).

    Google Scholar 

  5. Shu, D. Cambrian and Lower Ordovician Bradoriids from Zhejiang, Hunan and Shaanxi (Northwest Univ. Press, Xian, 1990).

    Google Scholar 

  6. Shu, D. Cour. Forsch-Inst Senck. 123, 315–330 (1990).

    Google Scholar 

  7. Zhang, W. Acta palaeont. sin. 26, 223–235 (1987).

    Google Scholar 

  8. Shu, D., Geyer, G., Chen, L. & Zhang, X. Beringeria (suppl.) 2, 203–241.

  9. Shu, D., Zhang, X. & Geyer, G. Alcheringa 19, 333–342 (1996).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  10. Hou, X. Acta palaeont. sin. 26, 286–298 (1987).

    Google Scholar 

  11. Ramsköld, L. Lethaia 25, 443–460 (1992).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  12. Shu, D. et al. NW Univ. (suppl.) 22, 31–38 (1992).

    Google Scholar 

  13. Shu, D. & Chen, L. J. SE-Asian Sci. 9, 289–299 (1994).

    Google Scholar 

  14. Hou, X., Ramsköld, L. & Bergström, J. Zool. Scripta 20, 395–411 (1991).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  15. Barnes, R. S. K., Calow, P., Olive, P. J. W. & Golding, D. W. The Invertebrates—a New Synthesis (Blackwell Scientific, Oxford, 1988).

    Google Scholar 

  16. Kozlowski, R. Palaeont. pol. 3, 1–235 (1949).

    Google Scholar 

  17. Broadman, R., Cheethan, A. & Rowell, A. Fossil Invertebrates (Blackwell Scientific, Oxford, 1987).

    Google Scholar 

  18. Bengtson, S. & Urbanek, A. Lethaia 19, 293–308 (1986).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  19. Durman, P. N. & Sennikov, N. V. Palaeontology 36, 283–296 (1993).

    Google Scholar 

  20. Arduini, P., Pinna, G. & Teruzzi, G. Atti Soc. ital. Sci. nat. Museo civ. Storia nat. Milano 122, 104–108 (1981).

    Google Scholar 

  21. Chen, J., Dzik, J., Edgecombe, G. D., Ramsköld, L. & Zhou, G. Nature 377, 720–722 (1995).

    ADS  CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  22. Romer, A. S. The Vertebrate Body, (W. B. Saunders, Philadelphia, 1964).

    Google Scholar 

  23. Barnes, R. D. Invertebrate Zoology, 1018–1028 (Saunders College, Philadelphia, 1980).

    Google Scholar 

  24. Jefferies, R. P. S. The Ancestry of the Vertebrates, (British Museum, London, 1986).

    Google Scholar 

  25. Briggs, D. E. G. & Kear, A. J. Lethaia 26, 275–287 (1994).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  26. Conway Morris, S. (ed.) Atlas for the Burgess Shale (Palaeontological Association, London, 1982).

  27. Briggs, D. E. G., Erwin, D. H. & Collier, F. J. The Fossils of the Burgess Shale, 197–198 (Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington, DC, 1994).

    Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Authors and Affiliations

Authors

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Shu, D., Zhang, X. & Chen, L. Reinterpretation of Yunnanozoon as the earliest known hemichordate. Nature 380, 428–430 (1996). https://doi.org/10.1038/380428a0

Download citation

  • Received:

  • Accepted:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1038/380428a0

Further reading

Comments

By submitting a comment you agree to abide by our Terms and Community Guidelines. If you find something abusive or that does not comply with our terms or guidelines please flag it as inappropriate.

Search

Quick links

Nature Briefing

Sign up for the Nature Briefing newsletter — what matters in science, free to your inbox daily.

Get the most important science stories of the day, free in your inbox. Sign up for Nature Briefing