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New reconstruction of the Wiwaxia scleritome, with data from Chengjiang juveniles.

Zhang, Z. and Smith, M.R. and Shu, D. (2015) 'New reconstruction of the Wiwaxia scleritome, with data from Chengjiang juveniles.', Scientific reports., 5 . p. 14810.


Wiwaxiids are a problematic group of scale-covered lophotrochozoans known from Cambrian Stages 3–5. Their imbricating dorsal scleritome of leaf-like scales has prompted comparison with various annelids and molluscs, and has been used as a template to reconstruct the articulation pattern of isolated Small Shelly Fossils. The first articulated specimens of Wiwaxia from the Cambrian Stage 3 Chengjiang Konservat-Lagerstätte show that the Wiwaxia scleritome comprised nine equivalent transverse rows associated with outgrowths of soft tissue, but did not possess a separate zone of anterior sclerites. This serial construction is fundamentally incompatible with the circumferential disposition of sclerites in early molluscs, but does closely resemble the armature of certain annelids. A deep homology with the annelid scleritome must be reconciled with Wiwaxia’s mollusc-like mouthparts and foot; together these point to a deep phylogenetic position, close to the common ancestor of annelids and molluscs.

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Date accepted:09 September 2015
Date deposited:17 November 2015
Date of first online publication:October 2015
Date first made open access:No date available

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