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Renewed perspectives on the sedentary-pelagic last common bilaterian ancestor

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journal contribution
posted on 01.08.2022, 12:10 authored by Alexander V. Martynov, Tatiana A. Korshunova

 Various evaluations of the last common bilaterian ancestor (LCBA) currently suggest that it resembled either a microscopic, non-segmented motile adult; or, on the contrary, a complex segmented adult motile urbilaterian. These fundamental inconsistencies remain largely unexplained. A majority of multidisciplinary data regarding sedentary adult ancestral bilaterian organization is overlooked. The sedentary-pelagic model is supported now by a number of novel developmental, paleontological and molecular phylogenetic data: (1) data in support of sedentary sponges, in the adult stage, as sister to all other Metazoa; (2) a similarity of molecular developmental pathways in both adults and larvae across sedentary sponges, cnidarians, and bilaterians; (3) a cnidarian-bilaterian relationship, including a unique sharing of a bona fide Hox-gene cluster, of which the evolutionary appearance does not connect directly to a bilaterian motile organization; (4) the presence of sedentary and tube-dwelling representatives of the main bilaterian clades in the early Cambrian; (5) an absence of definite taxonomic attribution of Ediacaran taxa reconstructed as motile to any true bilaterian phyla; (6) a similarity of tube morphology (and the clear presence of a protoconch-like apical structure of the Ediacaran sedentary Cloudinidae) among shells of the early Cambrian, and later true bilaterians, such as semi-sedentary hyoliths and motile molluscs; (7) recent data that provide growing evidence for a complex urbilaterian, despite a continuous molecular phylogenetic controversy. The present review compares the main existing models and reconciles the sedentary model of an urbilaterian and the model of a larva-like LCBA with a unified sedentary(adult)-pelagic(larva) model of the LCBA.