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Early Cambrian Yangtze Plate Maotianshan Shale macrofauna biodiversity and the evolution of predation
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2007 (English)In: Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology, ISSN 0031-0182, E-ISSN 1872-616X, Vol. 254, no 1-2, 250-272 p.Article, review/survey (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

The large number of soft-part preserved fossils from the Lower Cambrian Maotianshan Shale (Chengjiang) Lagerstätten suggests particularly favourable conditions for a rich life on the shelf-zone sea bottom of the Yangtze Plate, China. This high degree of biodiversity opens an excellent window into the early radiation phase of Metazoa and represents a significant data source for the study of adaptive strategies among early animals. Feeding and locomotion are the main life strategies of organisms we investigated with regard to two major benthic macrofaunal components of the Maotianshan Shale biota, the nemathelminths and the arthropods. Our attempt was to test whether food, feeding and locomotory strategies of the benthic Lower Cambrian shallow-water communities were as diversified as it appears from the morphological diversity of the organisms present. Two major types of feeders can be discerned: suspension/micro-particle feeders – mostly epibenthic sedentary taxa – and larger-particle feeders, living in benthic to bentho-pelagic realms. Scant evidence exists for exclusive vegetarians, fungi eaters, biomat utilizers and for in-faunal vertical burrowers or grazers (bioturbators). Predation, in a wider sense, seems to be a, if not the, major feeding mode among metazoans. Nemathelminths and arthropods are amongst the best examples. In the benthic shallow-water regime, as exposed by the Maotianshan Shale biota, animals and their ontogenetic stages were the most suitable and readily available food source. At least for arthropods, we propose that improvement of predatory strategies was paralleled by the enhancement of locomotory and food manipulation structures. Accumulating evidence of late Precambrian to Early Cambrian metazoans exposing diverse morphologies and life styles indicates that, on the large scale, phylogenesis progressed gradually in the Late Precambrian. This renders an “explosive” radiation of Metazoa unlikely.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2007. Vol. 254, no 1-2, 250-272 p.
Keyword [en]
Arthropoda, Nemathelminthes, Feeding and locomotion, Predation
National Category
Earth and Related Environmental Sciences
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-11625DOI: 10.1016/j.palaeo.2007.03.018ISI: 000250694700013OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-11625DiVA: diva2:39394
Available from: 2007-10-08 Created: 2007-10-08 Last updated: 2011-03-29Bibliographically approved

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Stein, Martin
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