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      The Cambrian conundrum: early divergence and later ecological success in the early history of animals.

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          Abstract

          Diverse bilaterian clades emerged apparently within a few million years during the early Cambrian, and various environmental, developmental, and ecological causes have been proposed to explain this abrupt appearance. A compilation of the patterns of fossil and molecular diversification, comparative developmental data, and information on ecological feeding strategies indicate that the major animal clades diverged many tens of millions of years before their first appearance in the fossil record, demonstrating a macroevolutionary lag between the establishment of their developmental toolkits during the Cryogenian [(850 to 635 million years ago (Ma)], and the later ecological success of metazoans during the Ediacaran (635 to 541 Ma) and Cambrian (541 to 488 Ma) periods. We argue that this diversification involved new forms of developmental regulation, as well as innovations in networks of ecological interaction within the context of permissive environmental circumstances.

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          Author and article information

          Journal
          Science
          Science (New York, N.Y.)
          American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS)
          1095-9203
          0036-8075
          Nov 25 2011
          : 334
          : 6059
          Affiliations
          [1 ] Department of Paleobiology, National Museum of Natural History, Washington, DC 20013-7012, USA. erwind@si.edu
          Article
          334/6059/1091
          10.1126/science.1206375
          22116879
          daa56644-11b6-4a05-9aee-2b3b58fd367e

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