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Mark A. Wilson is with the Department of Earth Sciences, The College of Wooster, Wooster, Ohio 44691, USA.

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Multicellular animals known as metazoa experienced a profound diversification of their forms during what is known as the Cambrian Radiation, which began about 541 million years ago. This led to the formation of most of the main groups of animals (tribes) known today in a relatively short geological time of less than 15 million years. Some tribes appear to have missed this biodiversification event, as evidenced by their absence from the fossil record for the Cambrian (541 million to 485 million years ago). However, genetic evidence based on a “molecular clock” to estimate when they appeared suggests they were present in this Cambrian “kitchen”. The most prominent animal phylum missing in the Cambrian so far was the bryozoa, a group of aquatic animals that exist as individual organisms connected by tissues to form colonies. These animals are later abundant in the fossil record. In Nature, Zhang et al.1 write a collection of fossils from early Cambrian deposits in China and Australia that are clearly bryozoans, presenting evidence that solves one of the mysteries related to early animal diversification.

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Budd, G. E. & Jackson, I. S. C. Phil. Translator R. Soc. B 371, 20150287 (2016).

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ISSN 1476-4687 (online)

ISSN 0028-0836 (print)

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