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Title: A new vetulicolian from Australia and its bearing on the chordate affinities of an enigmatic Cambrian group.
Contributor(s): Garcia-Bellido, Diego C (author); Lee, Michael S Y (author); Edgecombe, Gregory D (author); Jago, James B (author); Gehling, James G (author); Paterson, John R  (author)orcid 
Publication Date: 2014
Open Access: Yes
DOI: 10.1186/s12862-014-0214-zOpen Access Link
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Abstract: Background: Vetulicolians are one of the most problematic and controversial Cambrian fossil groups, having been considered as arthropods, chordates, kinorhynchs, or their own phylum. Mounting evidence suggests that vetulicolians are deuterostomes, but affinities to crown-group phyla are unresolved. Results: A new vetulicolian from the Emu Bay Shale Konservat-Lagerstätte, South Australia, 'Nesonektris aldridgei' gen. et sp. nov., preserves an axial, rod-like structure in the posterior body region that resembles a notochord in its morphology and taphonomy, with notable similarity to early decay stages of the notochord of extant cephalochordates and vertebrates. Some of its features are also consistent with other structures, such as a gut or a coelomic cavity. Conclusions: Phylogenetic analyses resolve a monophyletic Vetulicolia as sister-group to tunicates (Urochordata) within crown Chordata, and this holds even if they are scored as unknown for all notochord characters. The hypothesis that the free-swimming vetulicolians are the nearest relatives of tunicates suggests that a perpetual free-living life cycle was primitive for tunicates. Characters of the common ancestor of Vetulicolia + Tunicata include distinct anterior and posterior body regions - the former being non-fusiform and used for filter feeding and the latter originally segmented - plus a terminal mouth, absence of pharyngeal bars, the notochord restricted to the posterior body region, and the gut extending to the end of the tail.
Publication Type: Journal Article
Grant Details: ARC/FT120100770
Source of Publication: BMC Evolutionary Biology, v.14, p. 1-13
Publisher: BioMed Central Ltd
Place of Publication: United Kingdom
ISSN: 1471-2148
Field of Research (FOR): 060309 Phylogeny and Comparative Analysis
060301 Animal Systematics and Taxonomy
040308 Palaeontology (incl Palynology)
Socio-Economic Outcome Codes: 970104 Expanding Knowledge in the Earth Sciences
970106 Expanding Knowledge in the Biological Sciences
Peer Reviewed: Yes
HERDC Category Description: C1 Refereed Article in a Scholarly Journal
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