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Nature. 2001 May 24;411(6836):472-3.

An Early Cambrian tunicate from China.

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Early Life Institute & Department of Geology, Northwest University, Xi'an,


Like the Burgess Shales of Canada, the Chengjiang Lagerst├Ątte from the Lower Cambrian of China is renowned for the detailed preservation as fossils of delicate, soft-bodied creatures, providing an insight into the Cambrian explosion. The fossils of possible hemichordate chordates and vertebrates have attracted particular attention. Tunicates, or urochordates, comprise the most basal chordate clade, and details of their evolution could be important in understanding the sequence of character acquisition that led to the emergence of chordates and vertebrates. However, definitive fossils of tunicates from the Cambrian are scarce or debatable. Here we report a probable tunicate Cheungkongella ancestralis from the Chengjiang fauna. It resembles the extant ascidian tunicate genus Styela whose morphology could be useful in understanding the origin of the vertebrates.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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