Data from: Ontogeny, morphology and taxonomy of the soft-bodied Cambrian ‘mollusc’ Wiwaxia
Smith, Martin R. (2013), Data from: Ontogeny, morphology and taxonomy of the soft-bodied Cambrian ‘mollusc’ Wiwaxia, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.868sm
The soft-bodied Cambrian organism Wiwaxia poses a taxonomic conundrum. Its imbricated dorsal scleritome suggests a relationship with the polychaete annelid worms, whereas its mouthparts and naked ventral surface invite comparison with the molluscan radula and foot. 476 new and existing specimens from the 505-Myr-old Burgess Shale cast fresh light on Wiwaxia's sclerites and scleritome. My observations illuminate the diversity within the genus and demonstrate that Wiwaxia did not undergo discrete moult stages; rather, its scleritome developed gradually, with piecewise addition and replacement of individually secreted sclerites. I recognize a digestive tract and creeping foot in Wiwaxia, solidifying its relationship with the contemporary Odontogriphus. Similarities between the scleritomes of Wiwaxia, halkieriids, Polyplacophora and Aplacophora hint that the taxa are related. A molluscan affinity is robustly established, and Wiwaxia provides a good fossil proxy for the ancestral aculiferan – and perhaps molluscan – body plan.