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Sci Rep. 2013 Dec 13;3:3497. doi: 10.1038/srep03497.

Discovery of 505-million-year old chitin in the basal demosponge Vauxia gracilenta.

Author information

1
Institute of Experimental Physics, TU Bergakademie Freiberg, D-09599 Freiberg, Germany.
2
1] Museum of Paleontology, Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah, USA 84602-3300 [2].
3
Leeds Museum Discovery Centre, Leeds LS10 1LB, UK.
4
Leibniz Institute of Polymer Research Dresden, Max Bergmann Center of Biomaterials, D-01069 Dresden, Germany.
5
Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry, 82152 Martinsried, Germany.
6
Institute of Paleobiology, Polish Academy of Sciences, 00-818 Warszawa, Poland.
7
Max Planck Institute of Chemical Physics of Solids, D-01187 Dresden, Germany.
8
Department of Mathematics Komi SC UrD RAS, Syktyvkar, Russia.
9
Institute of the Solid State Physics, Dresden University of Technology, D-01069 Dresden, Germany.
10
1] Institute of Experimental Physics, TU Bergakademie Freiberg, D-09599 Freiberg, Germany [2] European XFEL GmbH, Albert-Einstein-Ring 19, D-22761 Hamburg, Germany.
11
Centre "Bioengineering", Russian Academy of Sciences, 117312 Moscow, Russia.
12
Institute of Bioanalytical Chemistry, TU Dresden, D-01069 Dresden, Germany.
13
R&D Chemistry, EKF Diagnostics, D-39179 Barleben, Germany.
14
Department of Material Commodity Sciences and Textile Metrology, Lodz University of Technology, 90-924 Łódź, Poland.
15
Max Planck Institute of Biogeochemistry, D-07701, Jena, Germany.
16
Steinmann-Institut für Geologie, Mineralogie und Paläontologie, University of Bonn, D-53115 Bonn, Germany.

Abstract

Sponges are probably the earliest branching animals, and their fossil record dates back to the Precambrian. Identifying their skeletal structure and composition is thus a crucial step in improving our understanding of the early evolution of metazoans. Here, we present the discovery of 505-million-year-old chitin, found in exceptionally well preserved Vauxia gracilenta sponges from the Middle Cambrian Burgess Shale. Our new findings indicate that, given the right fossilization conditions, chitin is stable for much longer than previously suspected. The preservation of chitin in these fossils opens new avenues for research into other ancient fossil groups.

PMID:
24336573
PMCID:
PMC3861796
DOI:
10.1038/srep03497
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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