The torchworms in the Cambrian Cheng river biota have attracted much attention because of their strange forms. Recently, researchers from Yunnan University’s Yunnan Provincial Paleontology Research Key Laboratory, the University of Exeter in the United Kingdom and the Natural History Museum in London collaborated to find out that the strange form of the flamboyator is the result of the degradation of the legs and limbs of the back of the body by a leaf-footed animal in order to adapt to the life of the benthic tube.
Firetorch Restoration Map Yunnan Province Paleobiological Research Key Laboratory For Supply
This is also the earliest example of the disappearance of the adaptive degradation of tissue organs in the evolutionary history of animals. The findings were published in the prestigious international academic journal Current Biology.
Ma Xiaoya, a researcher at the Key Laboratory for Paleontology Research in Yunnan Province, said the torchworm is a rare type of creepining animal in the Cambrian Chengjiang biota, which lived at the bottom of the ocean 518 million years ago. It has a slender worm-like body with 5 pairs of tentacles on the front end of the body and large body ends. Paleontologists have been debating the species’s classification location for more than 30 years because of its strange form. Early studies have suggested that it is a transitional group of animals, tentacles, tongue-shaped animals, or from legless ring-nerve worms to legless pan-arthropods.
After years of accumulation of fossil specimens, the team found in the new fossil specimens with the python’s body preserved together with the tubular structure, proving that the torchworm is an benthic tube animal, and its body puffed large end served as an anchor to fix the worm body in the tube. At the same time, the researchers also found new morphological features such as the eyes of the head of the torch worm. Combined with these new findings, and through systematic developmental analysis methods, people finally understand the “life” of the flamboythine.
The results show that the torchworm belongs to the Cambrian leaf-footed animal’s rheus. Leaf-footed animals are a species of extinct early creeps, commonly known as “legworms.” The torchworm mutates as it adjusts to life, losing the legs that were originally used for movement and climbing at the back of the body, but retains the leg limbs used to feed the front of the body.
This study proves that in the early animal evolution stage, the case of the disappearance of the adaptive degradation of tissue organs has occurred, and further demonstrates the complexity of the Cambrian marine ecosystem, which was the adaptive radiation of early organisms, which resulted in the outbreak of Cambrian biodiversity.