Kaili Biota: A Taphonomic Window on Diversification of Metazoans from the Basal Middle Cambrian: Guizhou, China



Abstract  A Burgess Shale-type biota is, in part, characterized by a wide diversity of taxa and soft-part preservation. Each provides unique historical insights into early metazoan evolution. Among the more than 40 globally distributed biotas, the early Cambrian Chengjiang and Middle Cambrian Burgess-type biotas are the largest. The Kaili Biota, from the earliest Middle Cambrian of Guizhou, China, contains representatives of 110 metazoan genera belonging to 10 phyla. It contains many well-persevered soft-bodied specimens. This Chinese biota has become the third most taxonomically diverse Burgess Shale-type fauna. Because the Kaili Biota formed in an outer-shelf environment, its main faunal character is large numbers of eocrinoids and planktoic trilobites. The Kaili is younger than the Chengjiang Biota but older than the Canadian Burgess Shale Biota it shares 30 genera with the Chengjiang and 38 genera with the Burgess Biota. The Kaili Biota displays a taphonomic window to the diversification and evolution of marine offshore organisms covering 5.13 million years between the Early and Middle Cambrian.