Uma reavaliação crítica do registro fóssil dos filos bilatérios

terça-feira, outubro 18, 2011

Biological Reviews of the Cambridge Philosophical Society
Biological Reviews of the Cambridge Philosophical Society (2000), 75: 253-295
Cambridge Philosophical Society 2000
DOI: (About DOI)
Published online: 08 September 2000

Review Article

A critical reappraisal of the fossil record of the bilaterian phyla

a1 Department of Earth Sciences (Historical Geology & Palaeontology), University of Uppsala, Norbyvägen 22, Uppsala S-752 36, Sweden. E-mail:

a2 Department of Earth Sciences, University of Cambridge, Downing Street, Cambridge, CB2 3EQ, UK


It has long been assumed that the extant bilaterian phyla generally have their origin in the Cambrian explosion, when they appear in an essentially modern form. Both these assumptions are questionable. A strict application of stem- and crown-group concepts to phyla shows that although the branching points of many clades may have occurred in the Early Cambrian or before, the appearance of the modern body plans was in most cases later: very few bilaterian phyla sensu stricto have demonstrable representatives in the earliest Cambrian. Given that the early branching points of major clades is an inevitable result of the geometry of clade diversification, the alleged phenomenon of phyla appearing early and remaining morphologically static is seen not to require particular explanation. Confusion in the definition of a phylum has thus led to attempts to explain (especially from a developmental perspective) a feature that is partly inevitable, partly illusory. We critically discuss models for Proterozoic diversification based on small body size, limited developmental capacity and poor preservation and cryptic habits, and show that the prospect of lineage diversification occurring early in the Proterozoic can be seen to be unlikely on grounds of both parsimony and functional morphology. Indeed, the combination of the body and trace fossil record demonstrates a progressive diversification through the end of the Proterozoic well into the Cambrian and beyond, a picture consistent with body plans being assembled during this time. Body-plan characters are likely to have been acquired monophyletically in the history of the bilaterians, and a model explaining the diversity in just one of them, the coelom, is presented. This analysis points to the requirement for a careful application of systematic methodology before explanations are sought for alleged patterns of constraint and flexibility.

(Received July 19 1999)

(Revised November 9 1999)

(Accepted December 13 1999)

Key Words: Cambrian; Bilateria; functional morphology; planktotrophy; trace fossils; body size; stem groups; phyla; origins; molecular clocks. 


c1 Corresponding author.

p1 Current address: Department of Earth Sciences, University of California, Riverside, CA 92521, USA.


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