Published online by Cambridge University Press: 02 October 2017
The kutorginates are commonly the most abundant rhynchonelliform brachiopod found in the early Cambrian; they are also some of the oldest known rhynchonelliforms, first appearing in the Unnamed Series 2 (Atdabanian equivalent) and becoming extinct sometime in Cambrian Series 3 (Amgaian equivalent). Moreover, kutorginates are the first known member of the rhynchonelliforms for which we have a detailed knowledge of their soft-part anatomy, including the lophophore, digestive tract, and pedicle—all exceptionally preserved in Kutorgina chengjiangensis Zhang et al., 2007 from the early Cambrian Chengjiang Lagerstätte of southern China. The stout and annulated pedicle in the original report was described as protruding between the valves; however, newly collected better-preserved material now clearly shows that the pedicle actually protrudes from the apical perforation of Kutorgina chengjiangensis. This type of apical pedicle has also been described from other early Cambrian rhynchonelliforms, including the problematic chileate Longtancunella chengjiangensis (Zhang et al., 2011a). Exceptionally preserved similar pedicles are also known to emerge apically from the Silurian chileate dictyonellid Eichwaldia subtrigonalis Billings, 1858, as well as from the recently described Silurian chileate Trifissura rigida Holmer, Popov, and Bassett, 2014. However, it is clear that the only other exceptionally preserved kutorginate—a silicified Nisusia—was provided with an adult pedicle emerging between the valves from a posterior gap; thus, Nisusia has two pedicle openings. However, the apical foramen may represent the earliest attachment of the larvae, which subsequently became nonfunctional through ontogeny. It is suggested that both types of attachment strategies may have appeared early in the stem lineage of the Rhynchonelliformea.