Vetulicolia

Vetulicolia is an extinct taxon, either phylum or subphylum in rank, encompassing several Cambrian organisms. The vetulicolian body comprises two parts: a voluminous anterior forebody, tipped with an anteriorly positioned mouth, and lined with a row of five round to oval-shaped features on each lateral side, which have been interpreted as gills – or at least openings in the vicinity of the pharynx, and a posterior section that primitively comprises seven segments, and functions as a tail. All vetulicolians lack preserved appendages of any kind, having no legs, feelers, or even eyes. The area where the anterior and posterior parts join is constricted. Their affinity has been uncertain; they have been considered to represent stem- and crown-group arthropods, stem-group vertebrates, and early deuterostomes. The general scientific consensus formerly (before 2001) considered them early limbless arthropods, but now considers them early deuterostomes. Recently examined Vetulicolian fossils show the presence of notochord-like structures. Therefore, it can be concluded that vetulicolians are crown-group chordates and probably the sister group of modern tunicates.