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Precambrian Sponges with Cellular Structures

Science  06 Feb 1998:
Vol. 279, Issue 5352, pp. 879-882
DOI: 10.1126/science.279.5352.879

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Abstract

Sponge remains have been identified in the Early Vendian Doushantuo phosphate deposit in central Guizhou (South China), which has an age of ∼580 million years ago. Their skeletons consist of siliceous, monaxonal spicules. All are referred to as the Porifera, class Demospongiae. Preserved soft tissues include the epidermis, porocytes, amoebocytes, sclerocytes, and spongocoel. Among thousands of metazoan embryos is a parenchymella-type of sponge larvae having a shoe-shaped morphology and dense peripheral flagella. The presence of possible amphiblastula larva suggests that the calcareous sponges may have an extended history in the Late Precambrian. The fauna indicates that animals lived 40 to 50 million years before the Cambrian Explosion.

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