Myllokunmingia is a chordate from the Lower Cambrian
The Cambrian is the first geological period of the Paleozoic Era, lasting from Mya ; it is succeeded by the Ordovician. Its subdivisions, and indeed its base, are somewhat in flux. The period was established by Adam Sedgwick, who named it after Cambria, the Latin name for Wales, where Britain's...

 Maotianshan shales
Maotianshan shales
The Maotianshan Shales are a series of lower Cambrian deposits in the Chiungchussu formation, famous for their Konservat Lagerstätten, or high number of fossils preserved in place...

 of China
Chinese civilization may refer to:* China for more general discussion of the country.* Chinese culture* Greater China, the transnational community of ethnic Chinese.* History of China* Sinosphere, the area historically affected by Chinese culture...

, thought to be a vertebrate
Vertebrates are animals that are members of the subphylum Vertebrata . Vertebrates are the largest group of chordates, with currently about 58,000 species described. Vertebrates include the jawless fishes, bony fishes, sharks and rays, amphibians, reptiles, mammals, and birds...

, although this is not conclusively proven. It is 28 mm long and 6 mm high.

It is among the oldest possible craniates, found in the lower Cambrian Chengjiang . It appears to have a skull
The skull is a bony structure in the head of many animals that supports the structures of the face and forms a cavity for the brain.The skull is composed of two parts: the cranium and the mandible. A skull without a mandible is only a cranium. Animals that have skulls are called craniates...

 and skeletal structures made of cartilage
Cartilage is a flexible connective tissue found in many areas in the bodies of humans and other animals, including the joints between bones, the rib cage, the ear, the nose, the elbow, the knee, the ankle, the bronchial tubes and the intervertebral discs...

. There is no sign of mineralization
Mineralization (biology)
In biology, mineralization refers to the process where an organic substance is converted to an inorganic substance.This may also be a normal biological process which takes place during the life of an organism such as the formation of bone tissue or egg shells, largely with calcium.This term may...

 of the skeletal elements (biomineralization).

The holotype
A holotype is a single physical example of an organism, known to have been used when the species was formally described. It is either the single such physical example or one of several such, but explicitly designated as the holotype...

 was found in the Yuanshan member of the Qiongzhusi Formation in the Eoredlichia Zone near Haikou at Ercaicun, Kunming City
' is the capital and largest city of Yunnan Province in Southwest China. It was known as Yunnan-Fou until the 1920s. A prefecture-level city, it is the political, economic, communications and cultural centre of Yunnan, and is the seat of the provincial government...

, Yunnan
Yunnan is a province of the People's Republic of China, located in the far southwest of the country spanning approximately and with a population of 45.7 million . The capital of the province is Kunming. The province borders Burma, Laos, and Vietnam.Yunnan is situated in a mountainous area, with...

, China. The animal has a distinct head and trunk with a forward sail-like (1.5 mm) dorsal fin
Dorsal fin
A dorsal fin is a fin located on the backs of various unrelated marine and freshwater vertebrates, including most fishes, marine mammals , and the ichthyosaurs...

 and a ventral fin fold (probably paired) further back. The head has five or six gill
A gill is a respiratory organ found in many aquatic organisms that extracts dissolved oxygen from water, afterward excreting carbon dioxide. The gills of some species such as hermit crabs have adapted to allow respiration on land provided they are kept moist...

 pouches with hemibranchs. There are 25 segments (myomeres) with rearward chevrons in the trunk. There is a notochord
The notochord is a flexible, rod-shaped body found in embryos of all chordates. It is composed of cells derived from the mesoderm and defines the primitive axis of the embryo. In some chordates, it persists throughout life as the main axial support of the body, while in most vertebrates it becomes...

, a pharynx
The human pharynx is the part of the throat situated immediately posterior to the mouth and nasal cavity, and anterior to the esophagus and larynx. The human pharynx is conventionally divided into three sections: the nasopharynx , the oropharynx , and the laryngopharynx...

 and digestive tract that may run all the way to the rear tip of the animal. The mouth cannot be clearly identified. There may be a pericardic cavity. There are no fin radials. There is only one specimen, which has the tip of the tail buried in sediment
Sediment is naturally occurring material that is broken down by processes of weathering and erosion, and is subsequently transported by the action of fluids such as wind, water, or ice, and/or by the force of gravity acting on the particle itself....


Only one species is known - Myllokunmingia fengjiaoa (Shu, Zhang & Han).

Related creatures are Haikouichthys
Haikouichthys is an extinct genus of craniate believed to have lived c. 530 million years ago, during the Cambrian explosion of multicellular life...

and Zhongjianichthys.

External links

The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.