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Title: Exceptionally preserved Cambrian loriciferans and the early animal invasion of the meiobenthos
Authors: Harvey, Thomas H. P.
Butterfield, N. J.
First Published: 30-Jan-2017
Publisher: Macmillan Publishers Limited
Citation: Nature Ecology and Evolution, 1:0022 (2017)
Abstract: Microscopic animals that live among and between sediment grains (meiobenthic metazoans) are key constituents of modern aquatic ecosystems, but are effectively absent from the fossil record. We describe an assemblage of microscopic fossil loriciferans (Ecdysozoa, Loricifera) from the late Cambrian Deadwood Formation of western Canada. The fossils share a characteristic head structure and minute adult body size (~300 μm) with modern loriciferans, indicating the early evolution and subsequent conservation of an obligate, permanently meiobenthic lifestyle. The unsuspected fossilization potential of such small animals in marine mudstones offers a new search image for the earliest ecdysozoans and other animals, although the anatomical complexity of loriciferans points to their evolutionary miniaturization from a larger-bodied ancestor. The invasion of animals into ecospace that was previously monopolized by protists will have contributed considerably to the revolutionary geobiological feedbacks of the Proterozoic/Phanerozoic transition.
DOI Link: 10.1038/s41559-016-0022
Version: Post-print
Status: Peer-reviewed
Type: Journal Article
Rights: Creative Commons “Attribution Non-Commercial No Derivatives” licence CC BY-NC-ND, further details of which can be found via the following link: Archived with reference to SHERPA/RoMEO and publisher website.
Description: The specimens on which this study is based are accessioned in the collections of the Geological Survey of Canada (GSC), 601 Booth St., Ottawa, Ontario, Canada (accession numbers GSC138576–138606, plus associated unfigured material). Additional images of specimens are available in figshare with the identifier doi: 10.6084/m9.figshare.4036104.
Appears in Collections:Published Articles, Dept. of Geology

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