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Widespread occurrence of microscopic pores in conulariids

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  20 May 2016

Heyo Van Iten
Department of Geology, Hanover College, Hanover, Indiana 47243,
Zdenka Vyhlasova
West Bohemian Museum in Pilsen, Kopeckého sady, 301 00, Pilsen, Czech Republic,
Mao-Yan Zhu
Nanjing Institute of Geology and Palaeontology, Academia Sinica, Chi-Ming-Ssu, Nanjing 210008, People's Republic of China,
Qian Yi
Nanjing Institute of Geology and Palaeontology, Academia Sinica, Chi-Ming-Ssu, Nanjing 210008, People's Republic of China,


Students of conulariids have published a number of papers addressing the systematics and phylogenetic affinities of this intriguing group of marine metazoans (e.g., Kiderlen, 1937; Termier and Termier, 1949; Moore and Harrington, 1956; Werner, 1966, 1967; Kozlowski, 1968; Bischoff, 1978; Steul, 1984; Babcock and Feldmann, 1986a, 1986b; Babcock et al., 1987; Babcock, 1991; Van Iten, 1991, 1992a, 1992b; Jerre, 1994; Babcock et al., 1995; Brood, 1995; McKinney et al., 1995; Van Iten et al., 1996; Hughes et al., 2000; Van Iten et al., 2000; Collins, 2002). Hughes et al. (2000, p. 832), for example, argued that conulariids are an extinct order of scyphozoan cnidarians, suggesting further that the autapomorphies of the order Conulariida “may include” a “steeply pyramidal, phosphatic exoskeleton [showing] biradial symmetry [and having] flat facets bisected by midlines and separated by angular corners.” Under this concept, Conulariida can be interpreted to consist not only of Conularia Miller in Sowerby, 1821 and other post-Cambrian genera (e.g., Paraconularia Sinclair, 1940) traditionally placed within this taxon, but also of conulariid-like small shelly fossils, including Arthrochites Chen, 1982, Carinachites Qian, 1977, and Emeiconularia Qian, Van Iten, Cox, Zhu, and Zhuo, 1997, from the Lower Cambrian (Qian, 1989; Qian et al., 1997). However, previous work on the microstructure of conulariid-like small shelly taxa (Qian and Bengtson, 1989; Conway Morris and Chen, 1992; Qian et al., 1997) revealed certain differences between them and true conulariids. These differences, including the apparent absence of skeletal lamination in the small shelly fossils, suggest that assessments of the phylogenetic affinities of conulariids should also consider microstructural characters.

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