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Nature. 2005 Aug 18;436(7053):1013-5.

Silurian brachiopods with soft-tissue preservation.

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Department of Earth Science and Engineering, Imperial College, London SW7 2AZ, UK.


'Articulated' rhynchonelliformean brachiopods are abundant shelly fossils, but the direct fossil record of their soft parts was hitherto confined to a single pyritized trace possibly representing a lophophore. Anatomical knowledge of extinct rhynchonelliformeans relies heavily on analogies to extant species; these analogies are untested for stem-group clades. The Silurian Herefordshire (UK) Konservat-Lagerst├Ątte (about 425 Myr bp) yields exceptionally preserved three-dimensional fossils that provide unrivalled insights into the palaeobiology of a variety of invertebrates. The fossils are preserved as calcitic void in-fills in carbonate concretions within a volcaniclastic horizon, and are reconstructed digitally. Here we describe a stem-group rhynchonelliformean specimen from this deposit; it most probably belongs in the order Orthida. A robust ridged pedicle with distal rootlets is preserved, together with a lophophore and other soft-tissue structures. The pedicle morphology is novel, urging caution in inferring stem-group rhynchonelliformean anatomy from that of crown-group species. Smaller brachiopods are attached to the specimen; these include a probable atrypide, with pedicle and marginal setae preserved.

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