The Weng'an Biota is a fossil Konservat-Lagerstätte in South China that is c. 570 – 609 myr old and provides an unparalleled snapshot of marine life during the interval in which molecular clocks estimate that animal clades were diversifying. It yields fossils that are three-dimensionally preserved in calcium phosphate with cellular and sometimes subcellular fidelity. The biota includes candidates for the oldest animals in the fossil record, including embryonic, larval and adult forms. We argue that, although the Weng'an Biota includes forms that could be animals, none can currently be assigned to this group with confidence. Nonetheless, the biota offers a rare and valuable window on the evolution of multicellular and soft-bodied organisms in the prelude to the Cambrian radiation.
- Received November 21, 2016.
- Revision received February 28, 2017.
- Accepted March 1, 2017.
- © 2017 The Author(s)
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