I used my first Fossil Friday post to bring you back…way back to the so-called Cambrian Explosion more than 525 million years ago. Many of you got the locality of this critter right away: The Burgess Shale in Canada. The Burgess Shale is famous for its exceptional preservation of early soft-bodied animals. The one preserved here is Anomalocaris, specifically, its mouthparts. Anomalocaris was a giant (2m-long) predator in the Cambrian seas, and this particular specimen was collected by Harvard’s Percy Raymond, who did extensive collecting of Burgess Shale fauna in the late 1920s–early 1930s and even has a locality named after him (Raymond Quarry).
Come on, that’s pretty awesome, right? I want a quarry named after me.
The Burgess Shale was in the news last week when scientists published a piece in Nature that finally described the head of a particularly enigmatic Burgess form—Hallucigenia. Hallucigenia is well-known for being “upside down” in early descriptions and now, finally, we know which end is its butt and which is its head. Progress!
Congratulations to our winner Dan Phelps, who not only got Anomalocaris right away, but also raked in bonus points for identifying the inarticulate brachiopods as belonging to the genus Lingulella.
Dan, if I had a bouquet of crinoids, I’d give them to you.