Exceptionally Preserved Cambrian Lophotrochozoa : Taxonomy, Systematics and Taphonomy of Chengjiang and Indian Springs Lophophorates
Sammanfattning: The origin and evolution of Lophotrochozoa can be traced to the plethora of lower Cambrian scleritome taxa. We aim to determine the character suites linking these stem-Lophotrochozoa to their extant crown relatives, in particular the small shelly tommotiids and the stem-group brachiopods. Tracing the origin of morphological characters from these fossils informs the evolution and construction of lophotrochozoan body plans associated with the Cambrian Explosion. This is achieved by comparing records of exceptional preservation, most conspicuously Burgess Shale type Lagerstätten with more widespread Cambrian stem-brachiopods and small shelly fossils with their purported extant relatives, for example. Determining morphological character homologies is crucial to reconstructing the brachiopod stem-group and in polarising character changes associated with the putative transition from scleritome organisms to crown-group brachiopods. In this thesis arguments for a common origin of specific shell structures and exceptionally preserved soft-tissues are investigated. New records of enigmatic stem-group lophotrochozoans are described from two localities, the Indian Springs and Chengjiang Lagerstätte. Comprising the stem-brachiopod Mickwitzia cf. occidens, a putative stem-group entoproct Cotyledion tylodes and an enigmatic agglutinated tubular lophophorate possessing an unusual combination of phoronid, brachiopod and tommotiid characters, Yuganotheca elegans gen. et sp. nov. The interplay of bauplan, microbial activity and environmental factors resulting in such incidences of exceptional soft tissue preservation is also examined critically. Consequently, the evolution of through-gut bearing bilaterians is suggested as the reason for why the Cambrian hosts such a plethora of Lagerstätten. The closure of this taphonomic window is then associated with increased bioturbation following the Cambrian substrate revolution.
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