Haikouella Chengjiang Biota Mass Death Assemblage

Putative Anctient Ancestor of the Vertebrates

Haikouella lanceolata

Geological Time: Early Cambrian (~525 million years ago)

Size (25.4 mm = 1 inch): Haikouella fossils are 10-20 mm long on a 45 mm by 30 mm matrix

Fossil Site: Chengjiang Maotianshan Shales, Quiongzhusi Section, Yu’anshan Member, Heilinpu Formation, Mafang Village, Anning, Kunming, Yunnan Province, China

Code: CJF115

Price: Sold


Description: This exceptional specimen is a multiple example of Haikouella lanceolata, thought by its describers to be the earliest craniate-like chordate. This fish-like animal has many similarities to the contemporaneous Yunnanozoon lividum, but differs in several aspects: it has a discernible heart, dorsal and Haikouellaventral aorta, gill filaments, and a neural chord. For all these reasons, it was identified by Chen, Huang, and Li in the seminal Nature paper (Nature 402, 518-522, 02 December 1999) as a chordate. The debate rages on, but whatever the outcome, this creature was much like the ancestor of all the vertebrates. It derives its generic name from its resemblance to the modern day lancet Amphioxus. Few examples are ever offered, and this is the second example with multiple specimens that I have seen in several years. Such assemblages have been mentioned in the literature, and must represent some catastrophe that overcame them en masse.

Also see: Chengjiang Biota Fauna List Chengjiang Fossils

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