Abstract

The radiodontans, including anomalocaridids and their allies, are enigmatic stem-group euarthropods and are the most ancient apex giant predators known from the fossil record. Most studies on their feeding behaviors have emphasized their diverse and abundant raptorial frontal appendages, while the oral cone surrounding the mouth opening in these animals has attracted less attention. At present, three oral cone morphotypes are known, from Anomalocaris Whiteaves, 1892, Peytoia Walcott, 1911, and Hurdia Walcott, 1912, respectively. In this paper, we report on a novel form of radiodontan oral cone from the Guanshan Lagerstätte (Cambrian Series 2, Stage 4) in the Wulongqing Formation, eastern Yunnan, South China. This oral cone is unique in combining features seen in Peytoia/Hurdia and Anomalocaris. It possesses a Peytoia/Hurdia-type ‘tetraradial’ configuration comprising a 32-plate outer ring that consists of four perpendicularly arranged large plates and 28 small plates, in addition to furrowed folds and scale-like nodes on plate surfaces otherwise seen only in Anomalocaris. As an intermediate morphotype, the Guanshan oral cone improves our understanding of the occurrence and morphological disparity of radiodontan oral cones, illuminates future investigations on potentially variable radiodontan feeding mechanisms, and reveals possible evolutionary transformations of these peculiar feeding structures. The resolution of current radiodontan phylogeny would be potentially improved by new knowledge on other body parts apart from frontal appendages in future studies.

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