Cambrian lagerstätt found in China with fossils of eyes and digestive system

(ORDO NEWS) — Chinese and American paleontologists have presented the Cambrian camp of Linyi, located in China. Scientists have estimated the age of the location at 504 million years.

In the new lagerstätt, the researchers found many well-preserved fossils, including remains of the digestive system and eyes of some organisms. A preliminary version of the article was published in the National Science Review.

Paleontologists call the conservation type Lagerstätten locations with exceptionally preserved organisms – even fossilized soft tissues are found in them. Conservation lagerstatts, such as the Cambrian Burgess Shale in Canada, provide insight into what organisms looked like, as well as details of their biology and evolution.

For example, well-preserved fossils of the polychaete worm Kootenayscolex barbarensis from the Burgess Shale provided insight into the evolution of the head of this group.

Most of the Cambrian Lagerstätts were found in the South China (their age is mainly dated to the second division, 521–509 million years ago) and the North American craton (their age is mainly dated to the Miaolin, 509–497 million years ago).

The discovery of a new Cambrian lagerstatt was reported by Zhixin Sun of the Nanjing Institute of Geology and Paleontology of the Chinese Academy of Sciences and his colleagues from China and the United States.

The location was discovered on the territory of the North China Craton (in the Chinese province of Shandong) and was named Linyi Lagerstätte. Scientists have estimated the age of its deposits at 504 million years (myaoling).

Cambrian lagerstatt found in China with fossils of eyes and digestive system 1
Location of the Lagerstätts in the Miaolin era and the second Cambrian era. NC, North China Craton, SC, South China Craton, La, North American Craton (Lawrence)

In Lagerstette, paleontologists have discovered fossil remains of many organisms, including trilobites (Trilobita), agnostoids (Agnostoidea), chelicerae (Chelicerata), radiodonts (Radiodonta), “bivalve” arthropods Isoxys and Tuzoia, priapulida (Priapulida), tentacles (Lophophorata), sponges (Porifera), chancelloriids (Chancelloriidae), macroalgae, jellyfish and worm-like organisms of unclear taxonomic position, as well as fossil traces. In total, scientists have identified 35 taxa, including a new species of chelicerae from the genus Thelxiope – T. tangi.

The researchers note that the organisms of the Linyi biota occupied a variety of ecological niches (for example, predators accounted for about 25 percent of all taxa), forming a complex food web.

Many of the organisms studied have retained soft tissue remnants, including limbs, digestive systems, and eyes. The study of these fossils, according to the authors, will provide new information about the structure of Cambrian organisms, as well as the structure of communities.

Scientists note that the Linyi biota is very similar to the Lagerstätts of the North American Craton, in particular, it has much in common with the Burgess Shale.

Cambrian lagerstatt found in China with fossils of eyes and digestive system 2
Arthropods from the Linyi Lagerstätt. A and B – Thelxiope spinosa with preserved digestive system, C and E – new species of T. tangi, D – limbs of T. tangi, F – trilobite Changqingia puteata with remains of the digestive system, G – Mollisonia symmetrica, H and I – Isoxys shandongensis with preserved limbs, digestive system and eyes


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