Abstract

Although knowledge of Cambrian fossil eggs and/or embryos has increased dramatically, embryos were previously unknown in siliciclastic settings of coeval strata. Here we report for the first time egg clusters in a fine-grained siliciclastic matrix from the Middle Cambrian Kaili Formation lagerstätte (513–501 Ma), south China. Some were imaged under synchrotron radiation. These spheroids are preferentially preserved as microcrystalline quartz and interpreted as marine invertebrate fossil eggs based on patterns of spheroid arrangement, shape, and analogues of fossil and modern invertebrate eggs. Embryos with cleavage cells are evident in at least one cluster. Detailed element analyses show that eggs are primarily preserved as solid silica replacement, and there is a calcite layer covering the eggs replacing the original organic layer. Silicification of intact invertebrate egg clusters is reported here as a new mode of preservation associated with a Burgess Shale–type deposit.

You do not currently have access to this article.