Article: Rhynchonelliformean brachiopods with soft-tissue preservation from the Eearly Cambrian Chengjiang Lagerstätte of South China
Cosmopolitan kutorginates, the most abundant Early Cambrian rhynchonelliformean brachiopods, became extinct at the end of the Middle Cambrian. Consequently, any information concerning the anatomy of this peculiar lineage of brachiopods has great phylogenetic significance with regard to their extant relatives for analogies with the stem-group clade. Such data have been supplied from fossils of which the soft parts have been preserved in exceptional detail. A new brachiopod, Kutorgina chengjiangensis sp. nov., from the Early Cambrian Chengjiang Lagerstatte of southern China, is described here. It is the first articulated brachiopod species collected from this deposit. The specimens preserve a set of soft-body parts, i.e. lophophore, digestive tract and pedicle, all previously poorly known in almost all Palaeozoic calcareous brachiopod taxa. The lophophore attains an early spirolophe stage, clearly homologous to that in the coeval lingulids. The digestive tract consists of a mouth, oesophagus, swollen stomach, intestine and a terminal anus. The pedicle protruding between the valves is stout and elongate, with annulated lamellae on the surface, and contains a putative coelomic cavity. K. chengjiangensis displays the characteristics of the stem group of calcareous brachiopods, and illustrates anatomical similarities between Cambrian phosphatic- and calcareous-shelled brachiopods, thus corroborating that the Brachiopoda are a monophyletic group.