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Lower Cambrian Vendobionts from China and Early Diploblast Evolution

Science  05 May 2006:
Vol. 312, Issue 5774, pp. 731-734
DOI: 10.1126/science.1124565

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Abstract

Ediacaran assemblages immediately predate the Cambrian explosion of metazoans and should have played a crucial role in this radiation. Their wider relationships, however, have remained refractory and difficult to integrate with early metazoan phylogeny. Here, we describe a frondlike fossil, Stromatoveris (S. psygmoglena sp. nov.), from the Lower Cambrian Chengjiang Lagerstätte (Yunnan, China) that is strikingly similar to Ediacaran vendobionts. The exquisite preservation reveals closely spaced branches, probably ciliated, that appear to represent precursors of the diagnostic comb rows of ctenophores. Therefore, this finding has important implications for the early evolution of this phylum and related diploblasts, some of which independently evolved a frondose habit.

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