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Discovery of 505-million-year old chitin in the basal demosponge Vauxia gracilenta

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Simon,  P.
Paul Simon, Chemical Metal Science, Max Planck Institute for Chemical Physics of Solids, Max Planck Society;

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Citation

Ehrlich, H., Keith Rigby, J., Botting, J. P., Tsurkan, M. V., Werner, C., Schwille, P., et al. (2013). Discovery of 505-million-year old chitin in the basal demosponge Vauxia gracilenta. Scientific Reports, 3: 3497, pp. 1-6. doi:10.1038/srep03497.


Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/11858/00-001M-0000-0017-C86D-9
Abstract
Sponges are probably the earliest branching animals, and their fossil record dates back to the Precambrian. Identifying their skeletal structure and composition is thus a crucial step in improving our understanding of the early evolution of metazoans. Here, we present the discovery of 505-million-year-old chitin, found in exceptionally well preserved Vauxia gracilenta sponges from the Middle Cambrian Burgess Shale. Our new findings indicate that, given the right fossilization conditions, chitin is stable for much longer than previously suspected. The preservation of chitin in these fossils opens new avenues for research into other ancient fossil groups.