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Science News

December 6, 2011

Palaeontology Seminar


Opening a can of worms from the Cambrian sea


Dr. Xiaoya Ma,

Department of Palaeontology, NHM



THURSDAY 8th December
Neil Chalmers Seminar Room (DC2 LG16)

16:00 - 17:00


The Early Cambrian Chengjiang Lagerstätte (~525 Ma) in southwest China is one of the oldest fossil assemblages in the world and yields a great diversity of exceptionally preserved soft-bodied fossils, including many worms or worm-like animals preserved in exquisite detail. This biota provides a unique window into the origin and early evolution of different vermiform phyla, which is significant for our understanding of deep phylogeny. This talk briefly reviews research progress on Chengjiang vermiform animals and then introduces some of my research work on different vermiform groups. Lobopodians are a group of worms with legs, which are suggested to have a close affinity with the origin of arthropods. With newly collected material, we re-described Paucipodia, Luolishania and Diania to provide more accurate morphological information for phylogenetic analysis. Priapulida is a small phylum today, but much more abundant in Cambrian seas. A new priapulid species was discovered recently and its exquisitely preserved morphological details allow direct comparison with extant taxa. Evidence indicates that this animal already developed a double-anchor locomotion strategy. Three new worm species may represent new vermiform phyla found in the Chengjiang Lagerstätte, and their functional morphology indicates a possible parasitic lifestyle.





For additional details on attending this seminar see