Nematod Worm from Chengjiang Biota with Everted Proboscis

Name: Phylum Nematomorpha; Maotianshania cylindrica

Geological Time: Early Cambrian (~525 million years ago)

Size (25.4mm=1 inch): 45 mm long (if straightened) on a 38 mm by 48 mm matrix.

Fossil Site: Chengjiang Maotianshan Shale: Quiongzhusi Section, Yu’anshan Member, Heilinpu Formation, Mafang, Anning, Kunming, Yunnan Province, China

Nematod Worm from Chengjiang BiotaDescription: This is an example of the nematomorph Maotianshania cylindrica. The species is known from numerous specimens, many of which have preserved details, with the taxon named after, Maotianshan (Mao Tian Hill), site of the discovery of the Chengjiang Biota by Hou Xian-guang in 1984. The intestine is often preserved as a dark film, indicative of its deposit-feeding lifestyle. The diversity of soft-tissue fossils is astonishing: algae, medusiforms, sponges, priapulids, annelid-like worms, echinoderms, arthropods (including trilobites), hemichordates, chordates, and the first agnathan fish make up just a small fraction of the total. Numerous problematic forms are known as well, some of which may have represented failed attempts at diversity that did not persist to the present day. While the species is known from other Lower Cambrian locations in Yunnan and Guizhou Provinces, it is particularly well known from the Chengjiang Biota. This one has been preserved with the proboscis everted, affording an uncommon opportunity to see this structure. The neatly arranged spines may have been used to capture prey. The fine example preserved here in exquisite detail makes this a highly unique specimen of life from 525 million years ago.

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