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Dictyophycus gracilis

A possible algal frond with a delicate net-like structure

Image of Dictyophycus gracilis.

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Dictyophycus gracilis (USNM 83483e) – Syntype. Fragment associated with several other organisms including a couple of specimens of the arthropod Marrella splendens. Specimen length = 28 mm. Specimen dry – polarized light (left), wet – direct light (middle), wet – polarized light (right). Walcott Quarry.

© Smithsonian Institution – National Museum of Natural History. Photo: Jean-Bernard Caron

Media 1 of 2 for Dictyophycus gracilis Photo
Media 2 of 2 for Dictyophycus gracilis Photo

Taxonomy

Kingdom:

Plantae (algae)?

Phylum:

Unknown

Class:

Non applicable

Affinity:

No revisions to the affinities of this possible alga have been published since its original description.

Species name:

Dictyophycus gracilis

Described by:

Ruedemann

Description date:

1931

Etymology:

Dictyophycus – from the Greek diktyon, “net,” and phykos, “sea weed.”

gracilis – from the Latin gracil, “thin, slender or simple.” The genus and species names refer to the shape and structure of the organism.

Type Specimens:

Syntypes –USNM83483a-d in the National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC, USA.

Other species:

Burgess Shale and vicinity: none.

Other deposits: none.

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Age

Period:

Middle Cambrian, Bathyuriscus-Elrathina Zone (approximately 505 million years ago).

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Localities

Principal localities:

The Walcott Quarry on Fossil Ridge.

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History of Research

Brief history of research:

Dictyophycus was briefly described by Ruedemann (1931) as a possible alga. However, like all the other putative algae from the Burgess Shale, it awaits a formal redescription.

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Description

Morphology:

Dictyophycus has a frond-like shape, with a delicate net composed of smooth fibers forming irregular to regular meshes. No organic material is preserved between fibers. The attachment structure is also rarely preserved and may have been broken during burial.

Abundance:

Dictyophycus is only known in the Walcott Quarry where it is relatively common in some layers representing 0.59% of the total counts of specimens (Caron and Jackson, 2008).

Maximum size:

50 mm

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Ecology

Life habits:

Epibenthic, sessile

Feeding strategies:

Primary producer

Ecological Interpretations:

Dictyophycus probably lived attached to the sea floor within the photic zone.

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References

Bibliography:

CARON, J.-B. AND D. A. JACKSON. 2008. Paleoecology of the Greater Phyllopod Bed community, Burgess Shale. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology, 258: 222-256.

RUEDEMANN, R. 1931. Some new Middle Cambrian fossils from British Columbia. Proceedings of the United States National Museum. 79: 1-18.

Other links:

None

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