Early Cambrian fuxianhuiids from China reveal origin of the gnathobasic protopodite in euarthropods

Jie Yang, Javier Ortega-Hernández, David A. Legg, Tian Lan, Jin Bo Hou, Xi Guang Zhang

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    Euarthropods owe their evolutionary and ecological success to the morphological plasticity of their appendages. Although this variability is partly expressed in the specialization of the protopodite for a feeding function in the post-deutocerebral limbs, the origin of the former structure among Cambrian representatives remains uncertain. Here, we describe Alacaris mirabilis gen. et sp. nov. from the early Cambrian Xiaoshiba Lagerstätte in China, which reveals the proximal organization of fuxianhuiid appendages in exceptional detail. Proximally, the post-deutocerebral limbs possess an antero-posteriorly compressed protopodite with robust spines. The protopodite is attached to an endopod with more than a dozen podomeres, and an oval flap-shaped exopod. The gnathal edges of the protopodites form an axial food groove along the ventral side of the body, indicating a predatory/scavenging autecology. A cladistic analysis indicates that the fuxianhuiid protopodite represents the phylogenetically earliest occurrence of substantial proximal differentiation within stem-group Euarthropoda illuminating the origin of gnathobasic feeding.

    Original languageEnglish
    Article number470
    JournalNature Communications
    Issue number1
    Early online date1 Feb 2018
    Publication statusPublished - 2018


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