Temporal range: Cambrian Stage 3,
|Artist's restoration of Haikouella lanceolata.|
Chen, Huang & Li, 1999
It is similar to the form Yunnanozoon, which is possibly a hemichordate. Still, there are anatomical differences from Yunnanozoon, including a larger stomach and smaller (0.1 mm) pharyngeal teeth. Haikouella does not have bones or a movable jaw, but it otherwise resembles vertebrates. Haikouichthys and Myllokunmingia, which seem to share significant fish-like characters, have been found in the same beds. Suspected hemichordates are also known from these deposits as well as from the Middle Cambrian Burgess Shale of British Columbia. Other than possible fish scales/plates from the Upper Cambrian of Wyoming, these Chinese fish-like chordates are one of the only known pre-Ordovician craniates.
Haikouella is known from 305 specimens mostly from a single bed in the Maotianshan shales of Yunnan province. The animal is 20 to 30 mm (40 mm max) in length and has a head, gills, brain, notochord, well developed musculature, heart and circulatory system. It has a bent caudal projection of the notochord that might be a primitive tail fin. It might have a pair of lateral eyes. Very small (0.1 mm) structures that are probably pharyngeal teeth are present in the body cavity. A few specimens display dorsal and ventral fins.
- Yang, C.; Li, X.-H.; Zhu, M.; Condon, D. J.; Chen, J. (2018). "Geochronological constraint on the Cambrian Chengjiang biota, South China" (PDF). Journal of the Geological Society. 175 (4): 659–666. doi:10.1144/jgs2017-103. ISSN 0016-7649.
- Chen, J.-Y.; Huang, D.-Y.; Li, C.-W. (1999). "An early Cambrian craniate-like chordate". Nature. 402 (6761): 518–522. doi:10.1038/990080.
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- Shu, D.; X. Zhang; L. Chin (4 April 1996). "Reinterpretation of Yunnanozoon as the earliest known hemichordate". Nature. 380 (6573): 428–430. doi:10.1038/380428a0. Abstract
- Shu, D.; Conway Morris, S.; Zhang, Z. F.; Liu, J. N.; Han, J.; Chen, L.; Zhang, X. L.; Yasui, K.; Li, Y.; et al. (2003). "A new species of Yunnanozoan with implications for deuterostome evolution". Science. 299 (5611): 1380–1384. doi:10.1126/science.1079846. PMID 12610301.