Skip to main content

A Cambrian spiny stem mollusc and the deep homology of lophotrochozoan scleritomes

Cite this dataset

Ma, Xiaoya; Vinther, Jakob; Parry, Luke; Zhang, Guangxu (2024). A Cambrian spiny stem mollusc and the deep homology of lophotrochozoan scleritomes [Dataset]. Dryad.


Molluscs encompass enormous disparity, including familiar clams and snails alongside aculiferans (chitons and vermiform aplacophorans) with complex multicomponent skeletons. Palaeozoic fossils trace crown molluscs to forms exhibiting a combination of biomineralised shells and sclerites. We describe a shell-less, Cambrian stem mollusc, Shishania aculeata, with conical, hollow organic sclerites and a smooth ventral girdle, broad foot, and mantle cavity. The sclerites have a microstructure of narrow canals consistent with the impressions of chaetal microvilli found in annelids and brachiopods. Shishania sclerites provide a morphological steppingstone between typical chaetae and the external organic part of aculiferan sclerites that encloses a mineralised body. This discovery reinforces a common origin of lophotrochozoan chaetae and the biomineralized aculiferan sclerites, suggesting the mollusc ancestor was densely covered with hollow organic chaetae.

README: A Cambrian spiny stem mollusc and the deep homology of lophotrochozoan scleritomes

This dataset includes polynomial texture maps in .rti format used to explore the surface morphology of specimens of the stem group mollusc Shishania aculeata.

Description of the data and file structure

This dataset contains .rti files that can be viewed using RTIviewer or Relight. All files are for specimens that are deposited at the Yunnan Key Laboratory for Palaeobiology (YKLP) and each specimen is identified by an individual accession number (YKLP*XXXXX,* where XXXXX represents each specimen's accession number). Further information included in the filename includes if the dataset is for the part or counterpart and the holotype is identified explicitly also. 


The RTI datasets were generated using a Broncolor Scope D50 and Canon R5 EOS camera with a 70mm F2.8 DG MACRO camera lens. Each dataset used a total of 48 images, that were subsequently processed using Relight to create polynomial texture maps (PTMs). Camera settings used for each specimen are available in the supporting information. PTMs were subsequently visualized using RTI viewer using the default rendering, diffuse gain, specular enhancement, and normal visualization options. For specimens with substantial relief, multiple images at different focal planes were stacked using Photoshop, prior to PTM creation in relight.


Natural Environment Research Council

Yunnan Fundamental Research Projects, Award: 202301BF07001-021

Yunnan Fundamental Research Projects XM, Award: 202301BF07001-021