Research ArticleEVOLUTIONARY BIOLOGY

Ediacaran metazoan reveals lophotrochozoan affinity and deepens root of Cambrian Explosion

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Science Advances  01 Jan 2021:
Vol. 7, no. 1, eabf2933
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.abf2933

Abstract

Through exceptional preservation, we establish a phylogenetic connection between Ediacaran and Cambrian metazoans. We describe the first three-dimensional, pyritized soft tissue in Namacalathus from the Ediacaran Nama Group, Namibia, which follows the underlying form of a stalked, cup-shaped, calcitic skeleton, with six radially arranged lobes projecting into an apical opening and lateral lumens. A thick body wall and probable J-shaped gut are present within the cup, and the middle layer of the often-spinose skeleton and skeletal pores are selectively pyritized, supporting an organic-rich composition and tripartite construction with possible sensory punctae. These features suggest a total group lophotrochozoan affinity. These morphological data support molecular phylogenies and demonstrates that the origin of modern lophotrochozoan phyla, and their ability to biomineralize, had deep roots in the Ediacaran.

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