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The enigmatic metazoan Yuyuanozoon magnificissimi from the early Cambrian Chengjiang Biota, Yunnan Province, South China

  • Yujing Li (a1) (a2) (a3), Mark Williams (a2) (a3), Sarah E. Gabbott (a2) (a3), Ailin Chen (a1) (a3) (a4), Peiyun Cong (a1) (a3) (a5) and Xianguang Hou (a1) (a3)...

Vetulicolians are a group of exclusively Cambrian animals characterized by an anterior section with lateral pouches and a posterior section that appears segmented. The precise phylogenetic affinity of vetulicolians is debated because there is a lack of consensus regarding the interpretation of their anatomical features. Their disparate morphology might even cause one to question whether this is a monophyletic taxon. In total, there are 15 species grouped into three families included in vetulicolians. Here we focus on new specimens of Yuyuanozoon magnificissimi Chen, Feng, and Zhu in Chen et al., 2003, a species that was first described from only a single specimen from the Chengjiang Biota (Cambrian Series 2, Stage 3, Eoredlichia-Wutingaspis trilobite Biozone), Yunnan Province, China. The species is notable in being exceptionally large (up to 20 cm long). Morphological observations on the new specimens clarify the nature of the wide circular opening at the presumed anterior end of the animal and the cowl-shaped lateral openings within this anterior section. Taphonomic observations identify wrinkles in the anterior section and twists in the posterior segmented section. In particular, the shape of the anterior opening of Yuyuanozoon magnificissimi suggests significant differences from other vetulicolians. Taxonomic reappraisal of Y. magnificissimi indicates that it belongs within the family Didazoonidae, as that is presently defined.

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Journal of Paleontology
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