Publications (3)40.88 Total impact
Article: Complex embryos displaying bilaterian characters from Precambrian Doushantuo phosphate deposits, Weng'an, Guizhou, China.[show abstract] [hide abstract]
ABSTRACT: Three-dimensionally preserved embryos from the Precambrian Ediacaran Doushantuo Formation, Weng'an, Guizhou, southern China, have attracted great attention as the oldest fossil evidence yet found for multicellular animal life on Earth. Many embryos are early cleavage embryos and most of them yield a limited phylogenetic signal. Here we report the discovery of two Doushantuo embryos that are three-dimensionally preserved and complex. Imaging techniques using propagation phase-contrast based synchrotron radiation microtomography (PPC-SR-microCT) reveal that the organization of cells demonstrates several bilaterian features, including the formation of anterior-posterior, dorso-ventral, and right-left polarities, and cell differentiation. Unexpectedly, our observations show a noticeable difference in organization patterns between the embryos, suggesting that they represent two distinct taxa. These embryos provide further evidence for the presence of bilaterian animals in the Doushantuo biota. Furthermore, these bilaterians had already diverged into distantly related groups at least 40 million years before the Cambrian radiation, indicating that the last common ancestor of the bilaterians lived much earlier than is usually thought.Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 11/2009; 106(45):19056-60. · 9.68 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: In developing embryos of some extant spiralian animals, polar lobe formation is one of the symmetry-breaking mechanisms for segregation of maternal cytoplasmic substances to certain blastomeres and not others. Polar lobe formation leads to unique early cleavage morphologies that include trilobed, J-shaped, and five-lobed structures. Fossil embryos similar to modern lobeforming embryos are recognized from the Precambrian Doushantuo Formation phosphates, Weng'an, Guizhou Province, China. These embryos are abundant and form a developmental sequence comparable to different developing stages observed in lobe-forming embryos of extant spiralians. These data imply that lobe formation is an evolutionarily ancient process of embryonic specification.Science 07/2006; 312(5780):1644-6. · 31.20 Impact Factor
Article: Phase contrast synchrotron X-ray microtomography of Ediacaran (Doushantuo) metazoan microfossils: Phylogenetic diversity and evolutionary implications[show abstract] [hide abstract]
ABSTRACT: Microfossils from the Ediacaran Weng’an Phosphate Member of the Doushantuo Formation (Guizhou Province, southern China) have received widespread attention. The Doushantuo, which overlies the glacial deposits of the Nantuo Formation, was deposited following the Marinoan glaciation, the last extensive glaciation of Snowball Earth. Radiometric age dating indicates that the Doushantuo is older than 580 my, and hence that these microfossils are older than the Ediacara Biota. However, the diversity represented by these fossils has yet to be fully documented. A recent technological approach that has increasingly been used to image fossils, propagation phase contrast synchrotron X-ray microtomography, has allowed non-destructive study of both exterior and interior features of a variety of Doushantuo microfossils from the gray facies of the Weng’an Phosphate Member, cropping out along the axis of the Mt. Beidou anticline. Studies of Doushantuo embryos demonstrate the existence of a large suite of modern embryonic features, including macromeres and micromeres, cell lineage, polar lobes, compacted epithelia, equal and unequal cleavage, blastulation and gastrulation, and chorionic protection. Because embryos such as those here studied provide only a limited amount of phylogenetic information, and because adult metazoans of the types that produced these embryos have yet to be discovered in Doushantuo-age rocks, these fossilized embryonic forms can at present be assigned only to the various superclades represented amongst living Metazoa. The diversity of the embryos here studied suggests that the metazoan fauna of the Doushantuo may well have included animals of poriferan, cnidarian, and both protostomial (representatives possibly of basal protostome lineages) and deuterostomial affinity. If this interpretation is correct, it would then follow that the last common ancestor of the bilaterian metazoan lineage, as well as the last common ancestor of sponges, cnidarians and bilaterians, pre-dated deposition of the Doushantuo strata.Precambrian Research.