New palaeoscolecid worms from the Furongian (upper Cambrian) of Hunan, South China: is Markuelia an embryonic palaeoscolecid?

Baichuan Duan, Xi-Ping Dong, Philip C. J. Donoghue

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

21 Citations (Scopus)


Three-dimensional fragments of palaeoscolecid cuticle have been recovered from the Furongian (upper Cambrian) of Hunan, South China. Extraordinary preservation of the fossils shows exquisite surface details indicating a three-layered structure of the cuticle. One new genus and two new species Dispinoscolex decorus gen. et sp. nov. and Schistoscolex hunanensis sp. nov. are described. The co-occurrence of these palaeoscolecid remains with those of Markuelia hunanensis allowed us to test the hypothesis that Markuelia, known hitherto only from embryonic remains, is an embryonic palaeoscolecid. The comparative anatomy of Markuelia and the co-occurring palaeoscolecids shows a number of distinctions, particularly in the structure of the tail; all similarities are scalidophoran or introvertan (cycloneuralian) symplesiomorphies. The available evidence does not support the interpretation of Markuelia as an embryonic palaeoscolecid.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)613-622
Number of pages10
Publication statusPublished - May 2012

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