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Sci Rep. 2017 Nov 6;7(1):14504. doi: 10.1038/s41598-017-15089-y.

Centimeter-wide worm-like fossils from the lowest Cambrian of South China.

Author information

1
State Key Laboratory of the Continental Dynamics, Shaanxi Key Laboratory of Early Life and Environment, Department of Geology, Northwest University, Xi'an, 710069, PR China. xzhang69@nwu.edu.cn.
2
State Key Laboratory of the Continental Dynamics, Shaanxi Key Laboratory of Early Life and Environment, Department of Geology, Northwest University, Xi'an, 710069, PR China.
3
Department of Earth Science and Astronomy, University of Tokyo, Tokyo, 153-8902, Japan.

Abstract

The trace fossil record implies that large worm-like animals were in place along with the skeletonizing organisms during the initial stage of the Cambrian explosion. Body fossils of large worms, however, have so far not been found. Here, we describe a large, soft-bodied, worm-like organism, Vittatusivermis annularius gen. et sp. nov. from the lowest Cambrian of South China, which is constrained to the Fortunian Age (541-529 Ma) of the Cambrian Period. The elongate body of Vittatusivermis was large enough to have supported organ systems and a fluid skeleton that facilitated peristaltic locomotion, thus allowing for more complex patterns of movement than those of flatworms. Its occurrence on the same bedding surface as trace fossils suggests that Vittatusivermis might have produced epichnial trails and shallow burrows on and within sediments. Therefore, Vittatusivermis is likely to have been one of the long expected producers of trace fossils in the earliest Cambrian.

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