Ontogeny, morphology and taxonomy of the soft-bodied Cambrian 'mollusc' Wiwaxia

Smith, Martin R. (2013) Ontogeny, morphology and taxonomy of the soft-bodied Cambrian 'mollusc' Wiwaxia. Palaeontology. ISSN ISSN: 0031-0239, ESSN: 1475-4983 DOI https://doi.org/10.1111/pala.12063

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Official URL: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/pala.12...


The soft-bodied Cambrian organism Wiwaxia poses a taxonomic conundrum. Its imbricated dorsal scleritome suggests a relationship with the polychaete annelid worms, whereas its mouthparts and naked ventral surface invite comparison with the molluscan radula and foot. 476 new and existing specimens from the 505-Myr-old Burgess Shale cast fresh light on Wiwaxia's sclerites and scleritome. My observations illuminate the diversity within the genus and demonstrate that Wiwaxia did not undergo discrete moult stages; rather, its scleritome developed gradually, with piecewise addition and replacement of individually secreted sclerites. I recognize a digestive tract and creeping foot in Wiwaxia, solidifying its relationship with the contemporary Odontogriphus. Similarities between the scleritomes of Wiwaxia, halkieriids, Polyplacophora and Aplacophora hint that the taxa are related. A molluscan affinity is robustly established, and Wiwaxia provides a good fossil proxy for the ancestral aculiferan � and perhaps molluscan � body plan.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: 2013AREP, IA66,
Subjects: 04 - Palaeobiology
Divisions: 04 - Palaeobiology
Journal or Publication Title: Palaeontology
Identification Number: https://doi.org/10.1111/pala.12063
Depositing User: Sarah Humbert
Date Deposited: 31 Aug 2013 12:39
Last Modified: 02 Sep 2013 13:47
URI: http://eprints.esc.cam.ac.uk/id/eprint/2860

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