Intelligent Design

Predation by shell-breakage affecting Early Cambrian lingulids

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Predation in the Early Cambrian is demonstrated by the occurrence of borings or drill holes in shelly fauna. Confirmatory evidence has been adduced from gut content analyses, although these evidences could also be attributed to scavenging. However, predation involving shell breakage or crushing has been documented previously only from the late Ordovician. This situation has changed with the published research on Lower Cambrian lingulate brachiopods.

“Here we present the first report of repaired damage to linguliform brachiopod shells caused by durophagous shell-crushing, which is exquisitely recorded from exceptionally preserved specimens in the early Cambrian Wulongqing Formation (Guanshan fauna), Kunming, China. The healed fractures on specimens with preserved thin pedicles unambiguously suggest failed predation attempts. Although they cannot be linked to any specific predators, this record shows that early Cambrian brachiopods experienced predation pressure by unspecified durophagous predators, probably anomalocariids.”

This study has implications for:
1. Drivers of change in the Lower Cambrian.
2. Evidence of repair mechanisms co-exist with the first appearance of durophagous shell damage.
3. When lingulids experienced selection forces associated with predation, they did respond, but remained lingulids.
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