Vetulicola rectangulata, an Enigmatic Fossil from Chengjiang

Vetulicola rectangulata

Phylum Vetulicolia (extinct) More Chengjiang Vetulicolia

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

Size: 78 mm long by 38 mm across and 95 mm long by 33 mm across on a 105 mm by 53 mm and 112 mm by 55 mm matrix

Fossil Site: Changjiang Maotianshan Shales, Quiongzhusi Section, Yu’anshan Member, Heilinpu Formation Mafang Village, Haikou County, Yunnan Province, China

Vetulicola This unusual fossil is Vetulicola rectangulata, a member of the Vetulicolians, an enigmatic group that some scientists place in their own phylum (Phylum Vetulicolia). They are thought to have been swimmers that either were filter feeders orVetulicolian detritivores. One researcher places them with the Urochordates based on putative affinity with the Phylum Chordata. At present, there is no agreement as to their systematic placement. This specimen comes from the Chengjiang Biota, and is thus slightly older than the Burgess Shale Fauna of British Columbia. This one is quite detailed, with both the abdomen and the carapace present. Some of the exterior of the carapace is gone, allowing you to see some of the interior structure. The Chengjiang fossils comprise the oldest, diverse metazoan faunal assemblage above the Proterozoic-Phanerozoic transition, and thus the fossil record’s best data source for understanding the apparently rapid diversification of life known as the Cambrian Explosion.

click fossil pictures to enlarge

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