Primitive vertebrate, artwork

Primitive vertebrate, artwork

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This image is part of the feature Missing Links - Transitional Fossils

Credit: CHRISTIAN DARKIN/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption: Primitive vertebrates, Haikouella lanceolata, artwork. H. lanceolata is an extinct, soft-bodied life-form, discovered in Lower Cambrian (520 million-year-old) deposits in Yunnan Province, China. It is thought to be a precursor to modern day vertebrates as fossils show early versions of features typically found in true vertebrates such as fishes. These include a spinal cord, internal organs, brain, gills, eyes, muscle blocks known as myomeres and a true tail. However, H. lanceolata does not have bones or a moveable jaw. Its spinal cord is protected by stiff tissue known as a notocord. H. lanceolata represents the evolutionary transition from invertebrates to vertebrates.

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