Skip to content

Bilateral Jaw Elements in Amiskwia sagittiformis Bridge the Morphological Gap between Gnathiferans and Chaetognaths

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)881-888.e1
Number of pages9
JournalCurrent Biology
Volume29
Issue number5
Early online date21 Feb 2019
DOIs
DateAccepted/In press - 15 Jan 2019
DateE-pub ahead of print - 21 Feb 2019
DatePublished (current) - 4 Mar 2019

Abstract

Amiskwia sagittiformis Walcott 1911 is an iconic soft-bodied taxon from the Burgess Shale [1–3]. It was originally interpreted as a chaetognath [1], but it was later interpreted as a pelagic nemertean [2] or considered of uncertain affinity [3]. Part of this ambiguity is due to direct comparisons with members of the crown groups of extant phyla [4] and a lack of clarity regarding the systematic position of chaetognaths, which would allow for assessing character polarity in the phylum with respect to outgroups. Here, we show that Amiskwia preserves a bilaterally arranged set of head structures visible in relief and high reflectivity. These structures are best interpreted as jaws situated within an expanded pharyngeal complex. Morphological studies have highlighted a likely homology between bilateral and chitinous jaw elements in gnathiferans and chaetognaths [5], which is congruent with a shared unique Hox gene that suggests a close relationship between Gnathifera and Chaetognatha [6]. Molecular phylogenetic studies have recently found gnathiferans to be a deep branch of Spiralia and Chaetognaths either a sister group to Spiralia [7] or forming a clade with gnathiferans [6, 8]. Our phylogenetic analyses render Gnathifera paraphyletic with respect to Chaetognatha, and we therefore suggest that Amiskwia is best interpreted as a stem chaetognath, but crown gnathiferan. The interrelationships of chaetognaths, or arrow worms, have been a matter of a long-standing debate. Here, Vinther and Parry demonstrate that the Middle Cambrian Burgess Shale fossil Amiskwia possesses a chaetognath bodyplan, but a jaw apparatus reminiscent of gnathiferans. This suggests that chaetognaths belong to Gnathifera within Spiralia.

    Research areas

  • Chaetognatha, burgess shale, Cambrian Explosion, gnathifera, spiralia, lophotrochozoa

Documents

Documents

  • Full-text PDF (accepted author manuscript)

    Rights statement: This is the author accepted manuscript (AAM). The final published version (version of record) is available online via Cell Press at https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0960982219300818 . Please refer to any applicable terms of use of the publisher.

    Accepted author manuscript, 9 MB, PDF document

    Embargo ends: 21/02/20

    Request copy

    Licence: CC BY-NC-ND

DOI

View research connections

Related faculties, schools or groups