An assemblage of fossil organisms found in deposits of Maotianshan shale in Chengjiang County, Yunnan Province, China, dating from the lower Cambrian (about 525 million years ago). Discovered in 1984, the Chengjiang fossils represent a great diversity of animal forms, including well-preserved soft tissues, and are comparable in importance with the slightly younger Burgess shale fossils. Besides numerous arthropods, worms, and sponges, there are several chordates, including an apparently jawless fish named Myllokunmingia. It resembles a hagfish and is the oldest known fossil vertebrate to date. See also Cambrian explosion.
Subjects: Biological Sciences.