Data from: New suspension-feeding radiodont suggests evolution of microplanktivory in Cambrian macronekton
Lerosey-Aubril, Rudy; Pates, Stephen (2019), Data from: New suspension-feeding radiodont suggests evolution of microplanktivory in Cambrian macronekton, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.1cf2fb0
The rapid diversification of metazoans and their organisation in modern-style marine ecosystems during the Cambrian profoundly transformed the biosphere. What initially sparked this Cambrian explosion remains passionately debated, but the establishment of a coupling between pelagic and benthic realms, a key characteristic of modern-day oceans, might represent a primary ecological cause. By allowing the transfer of biomass and energy from the euphotic zone—the locus of primary production—to the sea floor, this biological pump would have boosted diversification within the emerging metazoan-dominated benthic communities. However, little is known about Cambrian pelagic organisms and their trophic interactions. Here we describe a filter-feeding Cambrian radiodont exhibiting morphological characters that likely enabled the capture of microplankton-sized particles, including large phytoplankton. This description of a large free-swimming suspension-feeder potentially engaged in primary consumption suggests a more direct involvement of nekton in the establishment of an oceanic pelagic-benthic coupling in the Cambrian.