, Volume 49, Issue 10, pp 1063-1071

A rare lobopod with well-preserved eyes from Chengjiang Lagerstätte and its implications for origin of arthropods

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The origin of arthropods has long been one of the most hotly-debated subjects. Arthropods used to be thought closely related with annelids, but the two groups are now believed to be separated into two major realms within Protostomia on the basis of new molecular data. Although it is generally held by paleontologists that arthropods should be rooted in the early lobopods-a kind of worm-like creature with non-segmented legs, no intermediate forms have been found to bridge them. Here we report an organism with a mixture of characters, including features characteristic of arthropods (e.g., primary cephalization with paired eyes, paired antennae, and preliminary tagmosis) and of lobopods (e.g., worm-like body design, the dorsal spines, and non-segmented limbs or lobe-like legs). The discovery of the rare transitional form may throw new light on the origin of arthropods and suggests that the most primitive arthropods began with paired uniramous legs and the biramous ones evolved later.