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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2000 Apr 25;97(9):4457-62.

Precambrian animal diversity: putative phosphatized embryos from the Doushantuo Formation of China.

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  • 1Nanjing Institute of Geology and Paleontology, Nanjing 210008, China.


Putative fossil embryos and larvae from the Precambrian phosphorite rocks of the Doushantuo Formation in Southwest China have been examined in thin section by bright field and polarized light microscopy. Although we cannot completely exclude a nonbiological or nonmetazoan origin, we identified what appear to be modern cnidarian developmental stages, including both anthozoan planula larvae and hydrozoan embryos. Most importantly, the sections contain a variety of small (</=200 microm) structures that greatly resemble gastrula stage embryos of modern bilaterian forms.

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