Skeletal architecture of middle Cambrian spicular radiolarians revealed using micro-CT

Sheng, Jiani; Kachovich, Sarah; Aitchison, Jonathan C.

X-ray micro-computed tomography (micro-CT) is used to resolve the detailed internal architecture of the siliceous skeletons of two well-preserved middle Cambrian (Miaolingian Series) radiolarians from the Inca Formation of the Georgina Basin, Australia. Digital dissections of specimens of Archeoentactiniaincaensis and A. tetractinia reveal for the first time that both are exclusively composed of tetractine spicules. A basal layer consisting of robust spicules together with an interwoven meshwork of smaller spicules is observed in both micro-CT models. Detailed structural analysis with the aid of a digitally inserted artificial sphere shows that the framework spicules are likely to have been added one by one as the radiolarian cell enlarged. The timing of spicule genesis may be an important factor controlling the morphology of different groups of spicular radiolarians. Observation of these fundamental skeletal structures suggests that the type genus of Archeoentactiniidae Archeoentactinia belongs to Echidninidae; thus, Archeoentactiniidae is a junior synonym of Echidninidae.

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Sheng, Jiani / Kachovich, Sarah / Aitchison, Jonathan C.: Skeletal architecture of middle Cambrian spicular radiolarians revealed using micro-CT. 2020. Copernicus Publications.

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