A number of immature and mature exoskeletons allow the first detailed description of the ontogeny of the early Cambrian redlichiid trilobite Metaredlichia cylindrica, from black shale of the Shuijingtuo Formation in Hubei Province, South China. The material includes numerous complete protaspides, within which two stages can be differentiated according to the appearance of a shallow furrow that separates the protopygidial area from the protocranidium. Also, identification of the subsequent ontogenetic stages, including meraspides and holaspides, depends on isolated cranidia that display prominent morphological changes such as the contraction of frontal glabellar lobe, appearance of the fourth pair of glabellar furrows, and modification of the facial suture from proparian to opisthoparian. Incorporating the whole ontogenetic sequence allows us not only to trace the developmental trends of various structures with growth, but also to assign the protaspides to their adults correctly, particularly with the help of meraspid specimens.
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