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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2003 Jul 8;100(14):8314-8. Epub 2003 Jun 30.

The first tunicate from the Early Cambrian of South China.

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


Here we report the discovery of eight specimens of an Early Cambrian fossil tunicate Shankouclava near Kunming (South China). The tunicate identity of this organism is supported by the presence of a large and perforated branchial basket, a sac-like peri-pharyngeal atrium, an oral siphon with apparent oral tentacles at the basal end of the siphonal chamber, perhaps a dorsal atrial pore, and an elongated endostyle on the mid-ventral floor of the pharynx. As in most modern tunicates, the gut is simple and U-shaped, and is connected with posterior end of the pharynx at one end and with an atrial siphon at the other, anal end. Shankouclava differs from Cheungkongella, which was previously called a tunicate. Based on new, more complete "Cheungkongella" specimens that show branching tentacles, this form may be a lophophorate, and in any case is not a tunicate.

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