The Burgess Shale

Siphusauctum gregarium

Siphusauctum gregarium, ROMIP 61423

Taxonomy:

Kingdom: Suspension feeder
Phylum: Suspension feeder
Higher Taxonomic assignment: None
Species name: Siphusauctum gregarium
Remarks:

Siphusauctum was originally compared to several fossil and living stalked animals, including ctenophores (O’Brien and Caron 2012). Despite some similarities, the authors ultimately rejected any close connections with any living or fossil groups, with the possible exception of Dinomischus, another enigmatic stemmed animal from the Burgess Shale (Conway Morris 1977) and China. More recently, Siphusauctum has been viewed as a possible stem-group ctenophore (Zhao et al. 2019).

Described by: O’Brien and Caron
Description date: 2012
Etymology:

Siphusauctum — from the Latin “siphus,” which means “cup or goblet,” and the Latin “auctus,” meaning large.

gregarium — from the Latin “gregalis,” which means “flock,” referring to large clusters of specimens recovered.

Type Specimens: Holotype ROMIP 61414; paratypes ROMIP 61413, 61415, 61421 in the Royal Ontario Museum, Toronto, Canada
Other species:

Burgess Shale and vicinity: None
Other deposits: Siphusauctum lloydguntheri from the Spence Shale of Utah (Kimmig et al. 2017)

Age & Localities:

Age:
Middle Cambrian, Wuliuan stage, Burgess Shale Formation (around 507 million years old).
Principal localities:

Mount Stephen (Tulip Beds locality), British Columbia.

History of Research:

Brief history of research:

The Tulip Beds (initially known as “locality 8” (Collins et al. 1983) and later as “S7”(Fletcher and Collins 2003)) was discovered in 1983. It is not until a detailed overview of all material collected by ROM-led parties over multiple field seasons that a formal description of this species was published (O’Brien and Caron 2012), followed by a quantitative palaeocological study of the Tulip Beds.

Description:

Morphology:

This animal consists of three parts: a holdfast, a stem and a large calyx-shaped structure. The calyx-shaped structure is the most conspicuous part: it is composed of a continuous external sheath, perforated by the anus on top, and six holes at the bottom, and covers six comb-like internal elements arranged around a large central cavity. The comb-like elements are crescent-shaped, surrounded by a membrane with thin striae. Each comb-like element is composed of two sets of 30 transverse canals (or grooves) radiating on either side of a larger canal positioned abaxially. Following the anus, the body cavity encapsulates a digestive tract, which is composed of a narrow intestine and a wider zone, possibly representing the stomach, at the base of the tract and above a conical zone which connects to the stem. The stem is composed of an internal (inner) and external (outer) element. The inner stem connects directly to a bulbous or flat holdfast. At least one specimen suggests the presence of a tube between the stomach and the inner stem. The outer element ends sharply before the holdfast.

Abundance:

1,133 specimens, making it one of the most abundant species at the Tulip Beds (O’Brien and Caron 2016).

Maximum Size:
About 22 cm high.

Ecology:

Life habits: Suspension feeder
Feeding strategies: Suspension feeder
Ecological Interpretations:

The morphology and internal features of this animal strongly suggests it was a facultative stalked animal, living above the seafloor, and was an active filter feeder. The expansion and contraction of the calyx would have allowed the water and nutrients to circulate through the comb-like elements.

References:

  • COLLINS, D., BRIGGS, D. E. G. and CONWAY MORRIS, S. 1983. New Burgess Shale fossil sites reveal Middle Cambrian faunal complex. Science, 222, 163-167.
  • CONWAY MORRIS, S. 1977. A new entoproct-like organism from the Burgess Shale of British Columbia. Palaeontology, 20, 833-845.
  • FLETCHER, T. P. and COLLINS, D. 2003. The Burgess Shale and associated Cambrian formations west of the Fossil Gully Fault Zone on Mount Stephen, British Columbia. Canadian Journal of Earth Sciences, 40, 1823-1838.
  • KIMMIG, J., STROTZ, L. C. and LIEBERMAN, B. S. 2017. The stalked filter feeder Siphusauctum lloydguntheri n. sp. from the middle Cambrian (Series 3, Stage 5) Spence Shale of Utah: its biological affinities and taphonomy. Journal of Paleontology, 91, 902-910.
  • O’BRIEN, L. J. and CARON, J.-B. 2012. A new stalked filter-feeder from the Middle Cambrian Burgess Shale, British Columbia, Canada. PLoS ONE, 7, e29233.
  • O’BRIEN, L. J. and CARON, J.-B. 2016. Paleocommunity Analysis of the Burgess Shale Tulip Beds, Mount Stephen, British Columbia: Comparison with the Walcott Quarry and Implications for Community Variation in the Burgess Shale. Paleobiology, 42, 27-53.
  • ZHAO, Y., VINTHER, J., PARRY, L. A., WEI, F., GREEN, E., PISANI, D., HOU, X., EDGECOMBE, G. D. and CONG, P. 2019. Cambrian sessile, suspension feeding stem-group ctenophores and evolution of the comb jelly body plan. Current Biology, 29, 1112-1125.e2.
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Pakucaris apatis

Pakucaris apatis, holotype ROMIP 65739

Taxonomy:

Kingdom: Suspension feeder
Phylum: Suspension feeder
Higher Taxonomic assignment: Hymenocarines, Family: Odaraiidae
Species name: Pakucaris apatis
Remarks:

Hymenocarines were early arthropods with bivalved carapaces and mandibles, forming the bulk of the first mandibulates (represented today by myriapods, crustaceans and insects) (Aria and Caron 2017; Vannier et al. 2018). In many hymenocarines, including Pakucaris, determining the exact number and types of appendages in their head remains difficult, which hinders a detailed understanding of the evolutionary relationships inside this group. Pakucaris most probably belongs to the family Odaraiidae, a group of hymenocarines with highly multisegmented bodies, reduced or absent antennae and highly multisegmented legs.

Described by: Izquierdo-López & Caron
Description date: 2021
Etymology:

Pakucaris – from the Japanese onomatopoeia paku, suggestive of ‘eating’, related to the video game character Pac-Man, due to the naked eye resemblance of the carapace and shield of Pakucaris to the shape of the character. Latin caris, meaning “crab” or “shrimp”, and

apatis – from the goddess of deception in Greek mythology Apate, in reference to the resemblance of Pakucaris to a trilobite.

Type Specimens: Holotype ROMIP65739
Other species:

Burgess Shale and vicinity: None
Other deposits: None

Age & Localities:

Age:
Middle Cambrian, Wuliuan Stage, upper part of the Burgess Shale Formation (around 507 million years old)
Principal localities:

Marble Canyon, Tokumm Creek

History of Research:

Brief history of research:

The holotype of Pakucaris apatis was first discovered during the 2012 expedition to the Marble Canyon site of the Burgess Shale. A few other specimens were discovered during the following 2014 and 2016 expeditions and classified as “New arthropod E” (Nanglu et al. 2020). The 2018 expedition at the Tokumm Creek site uncovered one additional specimen. The first description of Pakucaris apatis was published in 2021 in the journal Papers in Paleontology (Izquierdo-López and Caron, 2021). Several other authors have noted the similarity between the shield of Pakucaris and pygidia (O’Flynn et al. 2022). A pygidium is a structure in which the most posterior segments of an arthropod become fused, usually into a shield. The pygidium is typically found in trilobites, but also across many other groups in the Cambrian, suggesting that this structure appeared multiple times independently.

Description:

Morphology:

Pakucaris has two morphotypes: a small one (around 1 cm) with its body subdivided into 30-35 segments, and a larger one (around 2.5 cm), with its body subdivided into 70-80 segments. The carapace of Pakucaris covers up to two-thirds of the total body length. It has a dome-like shape with a small dorsal crest that runs across its entire length. The carapace bends towards the front, extending into a small process (rostrum). Similarly, the lateral sides of the carapace also extend frontally into small lateral processes. The head has one pair of pedunculate eyes, one pair of thin small appendages, and at least one pair of larger segmented antennae. The small thin appendages are not segmented and represent a sensorial organ known as frontal filaments. The first antennae (also termed antennules) have 7 to 8 segments, with each segment bearing a small spine. Each segment of the body bears one pair of limbs, each subdivided into two branches (biramous): a walking leg (endopod) and a paddle-like flap (exopod). The endopod is thin and is subdivided into at least 20-21 segments. The exopod has an ovoid, flattened shape and is as long as half the endopod. The posterior section of the body has a shield-like structure. This shield is formed by the fusion and lateral extensions of the segments. The shield bears around 10 big spines on each of its lateral sides, as well as a series of smaller spines on its posterior side.

Abundance:

Pakucaris is rare, only known from eight specimens from the Marble Canyon and Tokumm Creek sites. The bigger morphotype is only known from one specimen.

Maximum Size:
About 2.5 cm

Ecology:

Life habits: Suspension feeder
Feeding strategies: Suspension feeder
Ecological Interpretations:

Pakucaris was probably a nektobenthic animal living close to the benthos (Izquierdo-López and Caron 2021). It may have used its antennae with spines to scrape rocks or other objects and may have also used its paddle-like exopods to create currents and capture organic particles, aided by its antennae and other head appendages. The tail shield (or pygidium) of Pakucaris was most probably a structure to protect against predators. The two morphotypes of Pakucaris may represent different growth stages of males and females, but the number of specimens available to date is too limited to reach a conclusion.

References:

  • ARIA, C. and CARON, J. B. 2017. Burgess Shale fossils illustrate the origin of the mandibulate body plan. Nature, 545: 89–92.
  • IZQUIERDO-LÓPEZ, A. and CARON, J. B. 2021. A Burgess Shale mandibulate arthropod with a pygidium: a case of convergent evolution. Papers in Palaeontology, 7: 1877–1894.
  • NANGLU, K., CARON, J. and GAINES, R. 2020. The Burgess Shale paleocommunity with new insights from Marble Canyon, British Columbia. Paleobiology, 46(1): 58–81.
  • O’FLYNN, R. J., WILLIAMS, M., YU, M., HARVEY, T. and LIU, Y. 2022. A new euarthropod with large frontal appendages from the early Cambrian Chengjiang biota. Palaeontologia Electronica, 25(1):a6: 1–21.
  • VANNIER, J., ARIA, C., TAYLOR, R. S. and CARON, J. B. 2018. Waptia fieldensis Walcott, a mandibulate arthropod from the middle Cambrian Burgess Shale. Royal Society Open Science, 5:172206.
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Nereocaris exilis

Nereocaris briggsi, holotype ROMIP 62153

Taxonomy:

Kingdom: Suspension feeder
Phylum: Suspension feeder
Higher Taxonomic assignment: Hymenocarines, Family: Odaraiidae
Species name: Nereocaris exilis
Remarks:

Hymenocarines were early arthropods with bivalved carapaces and mandibles, forming the bulk of the first mandibulates (represented today by myriapods, crustaceans and insects) (Aria and Caron 2017; Vannier et al. 2018). In many hymenocarines, including Nereocaris, determining the exact number and types of appendages in their head remains difficult, which hinders a detailed understanding of the evolutionary relationships inside this group. Nereocaris most probably belongs to the family Odaraiidae, a group of hymenocarines with highly multisegmented bodies, reduced or absent antennae and highly multisegmented legs.

Described by: Legg, D. A., Sutton, M. D., Edgecombe, G. D., Caron, J-B.
Description date: 2012
Etymology:

Nereocaris – After “Nereus”, the Greek titan with a fish-like tail and the Latin caris, meaning “crab” or “shrimp”, and

exilis – from the Latin exilis, meaning “slender”.

Type Specimens: dsfsdfdsfdsfdasf
Other species:

Holotype ROMIP61831

Age & Localities:

Age:
Middle Cambrian, Wuliuan Stage, Burgess Shale Formation (around 507 million years old)
Principal localities:

Tulip Beds (S7) (N. exilis) and the Collins Quarry (N. briggsi).

History of Research:

Brief history of research:

The first description of Nereocaris exilis was published in 2012 based on specimens from the Tulip Beds site in Mount Stephen (Yoho National Park). Two years later, Nereocaris briggsi was described based on specimens from the Collins Quarry in Mount Stephen (Legg and Caron 2014). Nereocaris was originally described with a median eye protruding from a single eye peduncle located between the lateral eyes (Legg et al. 2012; Legg and Caron 2014). This structure was later reinterpreted as one of a pair of frontal filaments; short unsegmented limb-like structures with a sensorial function (Izquierdo-López and Caron 2022). Similarly, the tail fan of Nereocaris exilis was initially interpreted as having six pairs of lateral caudal rami (termed telson processes in the original study) and one medial telson process. This structure was later reinterpreted as two pairs of three-partite caudal rami borne by the terminal segment (“te” in Izquierdo-López and Caron, 2022), and was also reconstructed as such for N. briggsi (Izquierdo-López and Caron 2022). The discovery of Nereocaris and the phylogenetic analyses adjunct to the publication have been key to the interpretation of hymenocarines as earliest euarthropods (Legg et al. 2013; Fu et al. 2022) (or ‘upper stem-euarthropods’ based on Ortega-Hernández 2014). The discovery of mandibles in several hymenocarines (Aria and Caron 2017; Vannier et al. 2018; Zhai et al. 2019) has prompted the reinterpretation of this group as mandibulates, although the mandibulates affinities of Nereocaris and other odaraiids remain unclear pending clearer resolution of their head appendages.

Description:

Morphology:

The carapace of Nereocaris has a dome-like shape, compressed laterally, which becomes progressively wider towards the back of the animal. The top of the carapace bears a dorsal crest (keel) that runs across its entire length and extends posteriorly into a small process. The carapace is truncated anteriorly, and each valve extends towards the ventral side, terminating into an anterior hook. The carapace valves extend beyond the length of the legs, and in N. briggsi extend across the ventral side, similar to Odaraia alata. The head bears one pair of short pedunculate eyes and one pair of thin and small, unsegmented appendages (frontal filaments). Antennulae appear to be absent, and further cephalic specializations are unknown from the material available. The body of Nereocaris is highly multisegmented, reaching more than 90 segments in N. exilis. The trunk is subdivided into a thoracic region with limbs and a long limbless abdomen. Limbs are short, subdivided into two branches (biramous): a walking leg (endopod) and a seemingly paddle-like flap (exopod). Based on N. briggsi, the walking legs are probably subdivided into 14 or similar segments (podomeres). The exact morphology and size of the exopods is not well-preserved, but darker areas close to the legs’ base could indicate their approximate shape and length. The terminal segment is distinctly larger than the preceding segments and extends into a blunt process towards the posterior side of the animal (the “mtp” in Legg & Caron, 2014). This last segment bears one pair of caudal rami, each being partly subdivided into three smaller segments (tripartite). Each segment bears one spine on its outer edge.

Abundance:

Nereocaris exilis is rare, only known from three specimens from the same locality. Nereocaris briggsi is highly abundant in its locality, with over 190 specimens known.

Maximum Size:
About 14.2 cm (N. exilis)

Ecology:

Life habits: Suspension feeder
Feeding strategies: Suspension feeder
Ecological Interpretations:

The limbs of Nereocaris exilis do not extend beyond the carapace ventral margin, indicating that they were not used for crawling. By contrast, the limbs of Nereocaris briggsi protrude from the carapace, but these were considered ill-suited to walk on the benthos (Legg and Caron 2014). For this reason, Nereocaris was reconstructed as a nektonic species, using its long abdomen as a means of propulsion (Legg et al. 2012; Perrier et al. 2015). N. exilis could have been a suspension-feeder, based on the lack of any raptorial or similar predatory limbs, but this possibility was questioned based on the lack of endites or setae on the limbs (Legg et al. 2012), which are widely used by extant filter-feeding crustaceans (Riisgård and Larsen 2010). A straight gut in N. briggsi, a simple tube filled with sediment may support the presence of a suspension or deposit feeding lifestyle, in which the animal would have consumed mud containing organic material (Legg and Caron 2014). It was also hypothesized that multiple odaraiids (Izquierdo-López and Caron 2022), most prominently Fibulacaris (Izquierdo-López and Caron 2019), could have swum upside-down, thus facilitating the capture of particles by the carapace. Whether Nereocaris could have adopted such behaviour remains uncertain.

References:

  • ARIA, C. and CARON, J. B. 2017. Burgess Shale fossils illustrate the origin of the mandibulate body plan. Nature, 545: 89–92.
  • FU, D., LEGG, D. A., DALEY, A. C., BUDD, G. E., WU, Y. and ZHANG, X. 2022. The evolution of biramous appendages revealed by a carapace-bearing Cambrian arthropod. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London B, 377.
  • IZQUIERDO-LÓPEZ, A. and CARON, J. B. 2019. A possible case of inverted lifestyle in a new bivalved arthropod from the Burgess Shale. Royal Society Open Science, 6: 191350.
  • IZQUIERDO-LÓPEZ, A. and CARON, J.-B. 2022. Extreme multisegmentation in a giant bivalved arthropod from the Cambrian Burgess Shale. IScience, 25, 104675.
  • LEGG, D., SUTTON, M. D. and EDGECOMBE, G. D. 2013. Arthropod fossil data increase congruence of morphological and molecular phylogenies. Nature Communications, 4: 1–7.
  • LEGG, D. A. and CARON, J. B. 2014. New Middle Cambrian bivalved arthropods from the Burgess Shale (British Columbia, Canada). Palaeontology, 57: 691–711.
  • LEGG, D. A., SUTTON, M. D., EDGECOMBE, G. D. and CARON, J. B. 2012. Cambrian bivalved arthropod reveals origin of arthrodization. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 279: 4699–4704.
  • ORTEGA-HERNÁNDEZ, J. 2014. Making sense of ‘lower’ and ‘upper’ stem-group Euarthropoda, with comments on the strict use of the name Arthropoda von Siebold, 1848. Biological Reviews, 91: 255–273.
  • PERRIER, V., WILLIAMS, M. and SIVETER, D. J. 2015. The fossil record and palaeoenvironmental significance of marine arthropod zooplankton. Earth-Science Reviews, 146: 146–162.
  • RIISGÅRD, H. U. and LARSEN, P. S. 2010. Particle capture mechanisms in suspension-feeding invertebrates. Marine Ecology Progress Series, 418: 255–293.
  • VANNIER, J., ARIA, C., TAYLOR, R. S. and CARON, J. B. 2018. Waptia fieldensis Walcott, a mandibulate arthropod from the middle Cambrian Burgess Shale. Royal Society Open Science, 5:172206.
  • ZHAI, D., ORTEGA-HERNÁNDEZ, J., WOLFE, J. M., HOU, X.-G., CAO, C. and LIU, Y. 2019. Three-dimensionally preserved appendages in an early Cambrian stem-group pancrustacean. Current Biology, 29: 171–177.
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Gyaltsenglossus senis

Gyaltsenglossus senis, holotype, ROMIP 65606.1

Taxonomy:

Kingdom: Suspension feeder
Phylum: Suspension feeder
Higher Taxonomic assignment: No subphylum assignment
Species name: Gyaltsenglossus senis
Remarks:

Gyaltsenglossus is currently considered a stem-group hemichordate. It has features of both the modern hemichordate groups in that it has the long proboscis and worm-shaped body of the Enteropneusta (acorn worms) and the crown of feeding tentacles of the Pterobranchia.

Described by: Nanglu et al. 2020
Description date: 2020
Etymology:

Gyaltsen (pronounced “GEN-zay”) in honour of the lead author’s father, and glossus from the Greek glossa, meaning tongue, a common generic suffix for hemichordates.

Senis from the Latin senex, meaning old.

Type Specimens: Holotype ROMIP 65606.1
Other species:

Burgess Shale and vicinity: None.
Other deposits: None

Age & Localities:

Age:
Middle Cambrian, Wuliuan Stage, upper part of the Burgess Shale Formation (around 507 million years old).
Principal localities:

Odaray Mountain, Yoho National Park.

History of Research:

Brief history of research:

Gyaltsenglossus was described in 2020 based on 33 specimens, all collected from Odaray Mountain. Only the holotype preserves all major anatomical features.

Description:

Morphology:

: Gyaltsenglossus is a worm roughly 2 cm long. At the anterior end, it has an elongate, ovoid, muscular proboscis. Behind the proboscis is a set of six arms which bore roughly 15 pairs of tentacles. These arms were roughly 1.5 times as long as the proboscis, based on measurements taken from the holotype. The tentacles give the arms an overall fuzzy or foliose appearance. Behind the feeding arms is a roughly cylindrical trunk, which tapers from the largest point at the anterior and becomes smaller towards the posterior end of the animal. On the dorsal side of the trunk, directly behind the feeding arms, an elevated area leads to a set of thin, thread-like appendages. Posterior to the trunk is a bulbous structure with internal features preserved more darkly than in the surrounding tissues. This bulbous structure may constitute thickened tissue. In some specimens, a gut ending prior to the posterior bulbous structure is preserved.

Abundance:

33 specimens were described.

Maximum Size:
About 2 cm.

Ecology:

Life habits: Suspension feeder
Feeding strategies: Suspension feeder
Ecological Interpretations:

The morphology of Gyaltsenglossus suggests that it had a two-part feeding ecology. The long proboscis could have been used to feed directly from the marine mud on which the animal would have lived, in a manner similar to that of modern-day acorn worms. The feeding arms could also have been used to filter food particles from the water above the organism, as done by pterobranchs. The posterior bulbous appendage may have been used to anchor Gyaltsenglossus to the seafloor, particularly when it was feeding on small particles from the water.

References:

  • NANGLU, K., J.-B. CARON, AND C. B. CAMERON. 2020. Cambrian tentaculate worms and the origin of the hemichordate body plan. Current Biology. 30 (21): 4238-4244
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Fibulacaris nereidis

Fibulacaris nereidis, carapace ROMIP 64511

Taxonomy:

Kingdom: Suspension feeder
Phylum: Suspension feeder
Higher Taxonomic assignment: Hymenocarines, Family: Odaraiidae
Species name: Fibulacaris nereidis
Remarks:

Hymenocarines were early arthropods with bivalved carapaces and mandibles, forming the bulk of the first mandibulates (represented today by myriapods, crustaceans and insects) (Aria and Caron 2017; Vannier et al. 2018). In many hymenocarines, including Fibulacaris, determining the exact number and types of appendages on their head remains difficult, which hinders a detailed understanding of the evolutionary history of this group. Fibulacaris most probably belongs to the family Odaraiidae, a group of hymenocarines with highly multisegmented bodies, reduced or absent antennae and highly multisegmented legs.

Described by: Izquierdo-López & Caron
Description date: 2019
Etymology:

Fibulacaris – from a “fibula”, a type of brooch, the latin caris, meaning “crab” or “shrimp”

nereidis – from the Greek mythological creatures known as Nereids, the daughters of Nereus, given the similarities of Fibulacaris to the Burgess Shale odaraiid Nereocaris (Legg et al. 2012).

Type Specimens: Holotype ROMIP65380
Other species:

Burgess Shale and vicinity: None
Other deposits: None

Age & Localities:

Age:
Middle Cambrian (Wuliuan Stage), upper part of the Burgess Shale Formation (around 507 million years old)
Principal localities:

Marble Canyon, Tokumm Creek.

History of Research:

Brief history of research:

Several specimens of Fibulacaris nereidis were discovered at the Marble Canyon site in 2014 and nicknamed “epsilon-arthropod” based on the characteristic shape of its carapace. The majority of specimens were discovered at Mount Whymper and Tokumm Creek sites during the expeditions of 2016 and 2018, sometimes referred as “safety-pin”. Its genus and species were later described in 2019 (Izquierdo-López and Caron 2019).

Description:

Morphology:

Fibulacaris is generally small, with most specimens measuring around 1 cm. It has a distinct bivalved carapace enclosing its body laterally, covering up to two-thirds of its entire length. The dorsal side of the carapace is dome-shaped with a small crest that runs across the entire length, and a small spinose process on its posterior side. The frontal side of the carapace bends ventrally into a highly elongated spine, almost as long as the carapace itself. The ventral margins of the carapace are thicker, and end with a small process posteriorly on both sides. One pair of pedunculate eyes protrudes from the notches formed between the carapace and the spine. Other details about its head remain unknown, but antennae are either absent or highly reduced. The anterior side of the body is bent posteriorly, so that the eyes are facing backward. The body is multisegmented, subdivided into 30 segments, with each segment bearing limbs subdivided into two branches (biramous). Its tail has two small appendages shaped like a paddle (caudal rami).

Abundance:

Fibulacaris is rare at the Marble Canyon site, but very abundant (with more than 100 specimens) along Tokumm Creek.

Maximum Size:
About 2 cm.

Ecology:

Life habits: Suspension feeder
Feeding strategies: Suspension feeder
Ecological Interpretations:

Fibulacaris was likely a nektobenthic suspension feeder (Izquierdo-López and Caron 2019). Its gut is sometimes preserved as a three-dimensional structure, a type of preservation that has been associated with deposit feeders (Legg and Caron 2014). However, Fibulacaris’ carapace extends through its ventral side, indicating that this arthropod was not able to walk on surfaces and obtain organic material from the sediment, like a deposit feeder. Extant branchiopod crustaceans, such as many water fleas (Cladocera), have carapaces similar to that of Fibulacaris. Using their limbs, they generate small water currents carrying organic particles that pass through their limbs and carapace. Fibulacaris, could have used a similar suspension-feeding strategy. Given that the dorsal side of Fibulacaris was covered by its carapace, and that its eyes were facing towards the back of its body, it has been suggested that it was swimming upside down (Izquierdo-López and Caron 2019), as fairy shrimps do (Anostraca) (Fryer 2006). This way, Fibulacaris would have had capture organic particles falling from the water column, while being protected from predators from its back thanks to the carapace, from its ventral and posterior side thanks to the spine.

References:

  • ARIA, C. and CARON, J. B. 2017. Burgess Shale fossils illustrate the origin of the mandibulate body plan. Nature, 545: 89–92.
  • FRYER, G. 1968. Evolution and adaptive radiation in the Chydoridae (Crustacea: Cladocera): a study in comparative functional morphology and ecology. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London. B, Biological Sciences, 254: 221–382.
  • FRYER, G. 2006. The brine shrimp’s tale: a topsy turvy evolutionary fable. Biological Journal of the Linnean Society, 88(3): 377–382.
  • IZQUIERDO-LÓPEZ, A. and CARON, J. B. 2019. A possible case of inverted lifestyle in a new bivalved arthropod from the Burgess Shale. Royal Society Open Science, 6: 191350.
  • IZQUIERDO-LÓPEZ, A. and CARON, J. B. 2021. A Burgess Shale mandibulate arthropod with a pygidium: a case of convergent evolution. Papers in Palaeontology, 7: 1877–1894.
  • LEGG, D. A. and CARON, J. B. 2014. New Middle Cambrian bivalved arthropods from the Burgess Shale (British Columbia, Canada). Palaeontology, 57: 691–711.
  • LEGG, D. A., SUTTON, M. D., EDGECOMBE, G. D. and CARON, J. B. 2012. Cambrian bivalved arthropod reveals origin of arthrodization. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 279: 4699–4704.
  • PARI, G., BRIGGS, D. E. G. and GAINES, R. R. 2022. The soft-bodied biota of the Cambrian Series 2 Parker Quarry Lagerstätte of northwestern Vermont, USA. Journal of Paleontology, 1–21.
  • VANNIER, J., ARIA, C., TAYLOR, R. S. and CARON, J. B. 2018. Waptia fieldensis Walcott, a mandibulate arthropod from the middle Cambrian Burgess Shale. Royal Society Open Science, 5:172206.
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Collinsovermis monstruosus

Collinsovermis monstruosus, holotype ROMIP 52703

Taxonomy:

Kingdom: Suspension feeder
Phylum: Suspension feeder
Higher Taxonomic assignment: Order Luolishaniida, Family Collinsovermidae
Species name: Collinsovermis monstruosus
Remarks:

Collinsovermis is one of a variety of lobopodian taxa from the Cambrian, which are early members of the lineage that gave rise to arthropods, and whose only modern survivors are onychophorans (velvet worms) and tardigrades (water bears). Lobopodians characteristically have annulated, unjointed bodies and bear soft limbs after which they are called: the lobopods. Collinsovermis is an armoured member of the Order Luolishaniida, along with forms such as Collinsium and Luolishania from China, or Acinocricus from Utah—together forming the family Collinsovermidae. Luolishaniids are characterized by their thin spines arranged in chevrons and the differentiation of their body into functional regions for suspension-feeding (Caron & Aria 2017, 2020).

Described by: Caron and Aria
Description date: 2020
Etymology:

Collinsovermis – Collins, patronymic, honours its discoverer, Desmond Collins, and vermis is Latin for worm.

monstruosus – From the Latin, in reference to the nickname ‘Collins’ monster’, first introduced by Delle Cave & Simonetta (1991).

Type Specimens: Holotype: ROMIP 52703, Paratypes: ROMIP 52704 and 52705 at the Royal Ontario Museum, Toronto, Canada.
Other species:

Burgess Shale and vicinity: None.
Other deposits: None.

Age & Localities:

Age:
Middle Cambrian, Wuliuan stage, Bathyuriscus-Elrathina Zone of the Burgess Shale Formation (approximately 507 million years old).
Principal localities:

Mount Stephen

History of Research:

Brief history of research:

Collected by a Royal Ontario Museum expedition on Mount Stephen in 1983, the Collinsovermis animal was first revealed, unnamed and undescribed, in the non-peer-reviewed magazine Rotunda (former name of the Royal Ontario Museum Magazine), as a single picture of the holotype, with the caption: “What is it? This new spiny animal (4 cm) with hairy legs has a body plan that has not been seen before.” In 1991, Italian scientists Delle Cave and Simonetta (1991) provided a brief description of the taxon and attempted a reconstruction solely based on the photograph provided by Collins in the Rotunda magazine, coining it the “Collins’ monster”. Despite the lack of name and good documentation, the Collins’ monster have repeatedly featured in studies tackling lobopodian evolution and phylogeny (e.g., Ramsköld & Chen 1998; Budd 2001; Ou et al. 2011; Caron & Aria 2017). It was only in 2020 that the animal was formally named Collinsovermis monstruosus, in honour of Desmond Collins, and fully described based on high resolution pictures of all available material (Caron & Aria 2020).

Description:

Morphology:

Collinsovermis has a plump appearance, with an annulated, unjointed body divided into anterior and posterior regions. The entire dorsum of the body is covered in well-developed spines—three short pairs cover the first three somites (“body segments”) behind the head, while triads of longs spines cover the remaining 10 somites. The anterior region bears 6 pairs of elongate lobopods with thin spines arranged in chevrons, and a small head, as a protrusion bearing a pair of sensory filaments as well as a small dorsal plate and a frontal mouth. The posterior region is made ventrally of 8 pairs of stout annulated lobopods ending in strong, single claws.

Abundance:

Like other lobopodians, Collinsovermis is excessively rare. There are only 3 specimens known, all from the Collins Quarry on Mount Stephen (Fletcher & Collins 2003). They are housed at the Royal Ontario Museum, Department of Natural History.

Maximum Size:
32 mm.

Ecology:

Life habits: Suspension feeder
Feeding strategies: Suspension feeder
Ecological Interpretations:

Collinsovermis exemplifies suspension-feeding adaptations in lobopodians associated with strongly-developed defensive elements. Like other members of the order Luolishaniidae, and those of the family bearing its name, this animal was using its stout back limbs for anchoring (probably to sponges) and its slender spinose anterior limbs to sieve organic particles or plankton. The long dorsal spines most certainly served as deterrent to predators.

References:

  • BUDD, G. E. 2001. Tardigrades as ‘stem-group arthropods’: The evidence from the Cambrian fauna. Zoologischer Anzeiger, 240, 265–279.
  • CARON, J. and ARIA, C. 2020. The Collins’ monster, a spinous suspension‐feeding lobopodian from the Cambrian Burgess Shale of British Columbia. Palaeontology, 63, 979–994.
  • CARON, J.-B. and ARIA, C. 2017. Cambrian suspension-feeding lobopodians and the early radiation of panarthropods. BMC Evolutionary Biology, 17, 29.
  • DELLE CAVE, L. and SIMONETTA, A. M. 1991. Early Palaeozoic arthropods and problems of arthropod phylogeny; with some notes on taxa of doubtful affinities. In S, S. A. M. C. M. (ed.) The Early Evolution of Metazoa and the Significance of Problematic Taxa. Proceedings of an International Symposium Held at the University of Camerino 27-31 March 1989, Cambridge University Press, 189–244 pp.
  • FLETCHER, T. P. and COLLINS, D. 2003. The Burgess Shale and associated Cambrian formations west of the Fossil Gully Fault Zone on Mount Stephen, British Columbia. Canadian Journal of Earth Sciences, 40, 1823–1838.
  • OU, Q., LIU, J., SHU, D., HAN, J., ZHANG, Z., WAN, X. and LEI, Q. 2011. A rare onychophoran-like lobopodian from the lower Cambrian Chengjiang Lagerstätte. Journal of Paleontology, 85, 587–594.
  • RAMSKÖLD, L. and CHEN, J. Y. 1998. Cambrian lobopodians: morphology and phylogeny. In EDGECOMBE, G. D. (ed.) Arthropod Fossils and Phylogeny, Columbia University Press, New York, 107–150 pp.
Other Links:

Ovatiovermis cribratus

Artistic reconstruction of Ovatiovermis cribratus. Danielle Dufault © ROM

Taxonomy:

Kingdom: Suspension feeder
Phylum: Suspension feeder
Higher Taxonomic Assignment: Order Luolishaniida
Species name: Ovatiovermis cribratus
Remarks:

Ovatiovermis is one of a variety of lobopodian taxa from the Cambrian, which are early members of the lineage that gave rise to arthropods, and whose only modern survivors are onychophorans (velvet worms) and tardigrades (water bears). Lobopodians characteristically have annulated, unjointed bodies and bear soft limbs after which they are called: the lobopods. Ovatiovermis groups with Facivermis as a peculiar “unarmoured” lineage within the Order Luolishaniida, notably characterized by their thin spines arranged in chevrons and the differentiation of their body into functional regions for suspension-feeding (Caron & Aria 2017, 2020).

Described by: Caron and Aria
Description date: 2017
Etymology:

Ovatiovermis – from the Latin ovatio (ovation) and vermis (worm) owing to the inferred upward-reaching, limb-waving posture of these animals.
cribratus – from the Latin cribrare, to sieve.

Type Specimens: Holotype ROMIP 52707 and Paratype ROMIP 64006 at the Royal Ontario Museum, Toronto, Canada.
Other species:

Burgess Shale and vicinity: None

Other deposits: None

Age & Localities:

Age:
Middle Cambrian, Wuliuan stage, Bathyuriscus-Elrathina Zone of the Burgess Shale Formation (approximately 507 million years old).
Principal localities:

The Walcott Quarry on Fossil Ridge.

History of Research:

Brief history of research:

Although the first and most complete specimen was discovered in 1994 by one of the ROM expeditions, Ovatiovermis was not described until 2017 by Caron and Aria. The animal served to exemplify suspension-feeding strategies early in panarthropod evolution, and prompted an analysis of the extent and significance of such lifestyle among other lobopodians.

Description:

Morphology:

Ovatiovermis has a worm-like, tubular body divided into three sections: An anterior section with two pairs of very long lobopods bearing thin spines arranges in chevrons and ending in paired claws; a middle section with four pairs of similar but smaller lobopods; and a posterior section with three pairs of very stout lobopods ending in single strong claws. The head is small and bears a pair of simple visual organs and an eversible pharynx. The surface of the body is devoid of any sclerite or spine. Cuticular folds are visible in the space in between lobopods.

Abundance:

Only two specimens. The holotype specimen (ROMIP 52707) was collected in 1994 from bed assemblage −120 (about 1.2 m below the base of the original Walcott Quarry floor), which is distinct from other bed assemblages in that it has particularly well-preserved specimens across a range of taxa (92 species). The paratype specimen (ROMIP 64006) was found in 2016 by a guest on a guided hike to the Walcott Quarry and forwarded to Dr. Jean-Bernard Caron by the Parks Interpreter office.

Maximum Size:
Maximum Size: 25 mm.

Ecology:

Life habits: Suspension feeder
Feeding strategies: Suspension feeder
Ecological Interpretations:

With its anterior sieving and posterior anchoring appendages, Ovatiovermis exemplifies suspension-feeding specialization among lobopodians. It was likely anchored to sponges and stood erect in the water to catch food particles or plankton.

References:

  • CARON, J. and ARIA, C. 2020. The Collins’ monster, a spinous suspension‐feeding lobopodian from the Cambrian Burgess Shale of British Columbia. Palaeontology, 63, 979–994.
  • CARON, J.-B. and ARIA, C. 2017. Cambrian suspension-feeding lobopodians and the early radiation of panarthropods. BMC Evolutionary Biology, 17, 29.
Other Links:

Balhuticaris voltae

Balhuticaris voltae, holotype ROMIP 66238

Taxonomy:

Kingdom: Suspension feeder
Phylum: Suspension feeder
Higher Taxonomic Assignment: Hymenocarines, Family: Odaraiidae
Species name: Balhuticaris voltae
Remarks:

Hymenocarines were early arthropods with bivalved carapaces and mandibles, forming the bulk of the first mandibulates (represented today by myriapods, crustaceans and insects) (Aria and Caron 2017; Vannier et al. 2018). In many hymenocarines, including Balhuticaris, determining the exact number and types of appendages in their head remains difficult, which hinders a detailed understanding of the evolutionary relationships inside this group. Balhuticaris most probably belongs to the family Odaraiidae, a group of hymenocarines with highly multisegmented bodies, reduced or absent antennae and highly multisegmented legs.

Described by: Izquierdo-López & Caron
Description date: 2022
Etymology:

Balhuticarisfrom the mythological creature Balhut, a giant aquatic animal in some Persian cosmologies, and the latin caris, meaning “crab” or “shrimp”, and voltae- from the Catalan word volta, an arch-like structure.

Type Specimens: Holotype ROMIP66238
Other species:

Burgess Shale and vicinity: None
Other deposits: None

Age & Localities:

Age:
Middle Cambrian, Wuliuan Stage, upper part of the Burgess Shale Formation (Burgess Shale) (around 505 million years old)
Principal localities:

Marble Canyon, Tokumm Creek

History of Research:

Brief history of research:

Balhuticaris has been found from both the Marble Canyon and the Tokumm Creek localities of the Burgess Shale during several expeditions between 2012 to 2022. The different specimens of Balhuticaris were originally not recognized as belonging to the same organism. Instead, these were identified as different undescribed euarthropods or potential radiodonts (Nanglu et al. 2020). Balhuticaris was formally described in 2022 (Izquierdo-López and Caron 2022).

Description:

Morphology:

Balhuticaris is a large bivalved arthropod that can reach up to 25 cm in length. The carapace only covers the first quarter of the total body length. It has a dome-like shape. In frontal view, the carapace looks like an arch: each valve extends towards the ventral side of the animal, surpassing the length of the legs. The dorsal side of the carapace extends towards the posterior side of the animal, giving the valves a “bean-like” shape in lateral view. The head bears a pair of well-developed, pedunculate, bilobate eyes. The head also bears one pair of short antennulae and a sclerotized structure that may represent a head sclerite. The body is highly multisegmented, with approximately 110 segments posterior to the head. Approximately the first ten segments are longer, and bear legs that become smaller towards the head. All segments bear a pair of legs, each subdivided into two branches (biramous): a walking leg (endopod) and a paddle-like flap (exopod). The endopod is thin and subdivided into around 14 segments. The exopod is ovoid, almost as long as the endopod. The last segment is longer than the rest, and has a flattened triangular shape. This segment bears two paddle-like legs (caudal rami). Each of these is subdivided into three segments, bears three spines on their outer edge and elongated filaments (setae) on their posterior edge.

Abundance:

Balhuticaris is rare, only known from a dozen specimens from the Marble Canyon and Tokumm Creek sites.

Maximum Size:
About 25 cm

Ecology:

Life habits: Suspension feeder
Feeding strategies: Suspension feeder
Ecological Interpretations:

Balhuticaris is the largest bivalved arthropod to date, surpassing in length Tuzoia (Vannier et al. 2007) and Nereocaris exilis (Legg et al. 2012), and rivalling other arthropods from the Burgess Shale, such as radiodonts, including the largest complete Anomalocaris (Briggs 1975) and Cambroraster (Moysiuk and Caron 2019), but smaller than the estimated 50 cm long Titanokorys (Caron and Moysiuk 2021). The general anatomy of Balhuticaris, including its elongated body and large segmented caudal rami, indicates that it was probably a good swimmer. It was hypothesized that it could be swimming upside-down (Izquierdo-López and Caron 2022), similar to its relatives Fibulacaris and Odaraia (Briggs 1981; Izquierdo-López and Caron 2019). Balhuticaris’ feeding could have ranged from suspension-feeder to predator (Izquierdo-López and Caron 2022), similar to some of the largest fairy shrimps today (Fryer 1966).

References:

  • ARIA, C. and CARON, J. B. 2017. Burgess Shale fossils illustrate the origin of the mandibulate body plan. Nature, 545: 89–92.
  • BRIGGS, D. E. G. 1975. Anomalocaris, the largest known Cambrian arthropod. Palaeontology, 22: 631–664.
  • BRIGGS, D. E. G. 1981. The arthropod Odaraia alata Walcott, middle Cambrian, Burgess Shale, British Columbia. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London. B, Biological Sciences, 291: 541–582.
  • CARON, J.-B. and MOYSIUK, J. 2021. A giant nektobenthic radiodont from the Burgess Shale and the significance of hurdiid carapace diversity. Royal Society Open Science, 8: 210664.
  • FRYER, G. 1966. Branchinecta gigas Lynch, a non‐filter‐feeding raptatory anostracan, with notes on the feeding habits of certain other anostracans. Proceedings of the Linnean Society of London, 177: 19–34.
  • IZQUIERDO-LÓPEZ, A. and CARON, J. B. 2019. A possible case of inverted lifestyle in a new bivalved arthropod from the Burgess Shale. Royal Society Open Science, 6: 191350:
  • IZQUIERDO-LÓPEZ, A. and CARON, J. B. 2021. A Burgess Shale mandibulate arthropod with a pygidium: a case of convergent evolution. Papers in Palaeontology, 7: 1877–1894.
  • IZQUIERDO-LÓPEZ, A. and CARON, J. B. 2022. Extreme multisegmentation in a giant bivalved arthropod from the Cambrian Burgess Shale. IScience, 25, 104675.
  • LEGG, D. A., SUTTON, M. D., EDGECOMBE, G. D. and CARON, J. B. 2012. Cambrian bivalved arthropod reveals origin of arthrodization. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 279: 4699–4704.
  • MOYSIUK, J. and CARON, J.-B. 2019. A new hurdiid radiodont from the Burgess Shale evinces the exploitation of Cambrian infaunal food sources. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 286:201910.
  • NANGLU, K., CARON, J. and GAINES, R. 2020. The Burgess Shale paleocommunity with new insights from Marble Canyon, British Columbia. Paleobiology, 46(1): 58–81.
  • VANNIER, J., ARIA, C., TAYLOR, R. S. and CARON, J. B. 2018. Waptia fieldensis Walcott, a mandibulate arthropod from the middle Cambrian Burgess Shale. Royal Society Open Science, 5:172206.
  • VANNIER, J. CARON, J. B., YUAN, J., BRIGGS, D. E. G., COLLINS, D., ZHAO, Y. and ZHU, M. 2007. Tuzoia: morphology and lifestyle of a large bivalved arthropod of the Cambrian seas. Journal of Paleontology, 81(3): 445–471.
Other Links:

Acanthotretella spinosa

Reconstruction of Acanthotretella spinosa.

© MARIANNE COLLINS

Taxonomy:

Kingdom: Suspension feeder
Phylum: Suspension feeder
Higher Taxonomic assignment: Lingulata (Order: Siphonotretida, stem group brachiopods)
Species name: Acanthotretella spinosa
Remarks:

Acanthotretella spinosa is probably related to a primitive group of brachiopods of the Order Siphonotretida (Holmer and Caron, 2006).

Described by: Holmer and Caron
Description date: 2006
Etymology:

Acanthotretella – from the Greek akantha, “thorn,” and tretos, “perforated,” and the Latin diminutive ella, describing the small, perforated, spiny shell.

spinosa – from the Latin spinosus, referring to the exterior spines.

Type Specimens: Holotype –ROM57749 in the Royal Ontario Museum, Toronto, Canada.
Other species:

Burgess Shale and vicinity: none.

Other deposits: Acanthotretella decaius from the early Cambrian Guanshan fauna, China.

Age & Localities:

Age:
Middle Cambrian, Bathyuriscus-Elrathina Zone (approximately 505 million years ago).
Principal localities:

The Walcott Quarry on Fossil Ridge.

History of Research:

Brief history of research:

Specimens were first illustrated as Lingulella sp. by Jin, et al. (1993), and formally described as Acanthotretella spinosa by Holmer and Caron (2006). New characters preserved in a related species from China (Acanthotretella decaius, Zhifei et al., 2010) reinforce the probable position of this genus within the Order Siphonotretida.

Description:

Morphology:

The shell of Acanthotretella is mainly organic in composition with probably only minor organo-phosphatic mineralization, and is ventri-biconvex. Both valves are covered in long, slender spines that penetrate the shell and are posteriorly inclined, angled obliquely away from the anterior margin. A long, flexible pedicle emerges from an external tube that extends from the pedicle foramen along the ventral valve. The pedicle is at least three to four times the length of the valves. The visceral area of both valves is short and triangular, and does not extend to mid-valve. Other interior features are poorly known.

Abundance:

Most specimens come from the Walcott Quarry and represent one of the rarest brachiopods with less than 0.05% of the entire fauna (Caron and Jackson, 2008).

Maximum Size:
8 mm

Ecology:

Life habits: Suspension feeder
Feeding strategies: Suspension feeder
Ecological Interpretations:

The long, thin pedicle and overall shell shape probably preclude an infaunal habit. Pedicles of several specimens were found attached at the terminal bulb to organic structures, suggesting that Acanthotretella spinosa was epibenthic. The pedicle was likely able to maintain the shell in an upright position well above the sediment-water interface. Extraction of food particles from the water would have been possible thanks to a filter-feeding apparatus (located between the shells) called a lophophore.

References:

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

HU, S. X., Z. F. ZHANG, L. E. HOLMER AND C. B. SKOVSTED. 2010. Soft-part preservation in a linguliform brachiopod from the lower Cambrian Wulongqing Formation (Guanshan Fauna) of Yunnan, South China. Acta Palaeontologica Polonica, 55: 495-505.

HOLMER, L. E. AND J.-B. CARON. 2006. A spinose stem-group brachiopod with pedicle from the Middle Cambrian Burgess Shale. Acta Zoologica (Stockholm), 87: 273-290.

JIN, Y. G, X. G. HOU. AND H. Y. WANG. 1993. Lower Cambrian pediculate lingulids from Yunnan, China. Journal of Paleontology, 67: 788-798.

Other Links:

http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1463-6395.2006.00241.x/abstract

Wapkia grandis

3D animation of Wapkia elongata and other sponges (Choia ridleyiDiagoniella cyathiformisEiffelia globosaHazelia confertaPirania muricata, and Vauxia bellula) and Chancelloria eros a sponge-like form covered of star-shaped spines.

ANIMATION BY PHLESCH BUBBLE © ROYAL ONTARIO MUSEUM

Taxonomy:

Kingdom: Suspension feeder
Phylum: Suspension feeder
Higher Taxonomic assignment: Demospongia (Order: Monaxonida)
Species name: Wapkia grandis
Remarks:

Wapkia is considered a primitive demosponge (Rigby, 1986). Demosponges, the same group that are harvested as bath sponges, represent the largest class of sponges today.

Described by: Walcott
Description date: 1920
Etymology:

Wapkia – origin of name is unknown

grandis – from the Latin grandis, “large.” This name refers to the large size and complex skeleton of this sponge.

Type Specimens: Lectotype –USNM66458 (W. grandis), in the National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC, USA. Holotype –ROM53544 (W. elongata), in the Royal Ontario Museum, Toronto, Canada.
Other species:

Burgess Shale and vicinity: W. elongata Rigby and Collins, 2004 from the Tulip Beds (S7) on Mount Stephen.

Other deposits: none.

Age & Localities:

Age:
Middle Cambrian, Bathyuriscus-Elrathina Zone (approximately 505 million years ago).
Principal localities:

The Walcott Quarry on Fossil Ridge. The Tulip Beds (S7) on Mount Stephen.

History of Research:

Brief history of research:

Wapkia was described by Walcott in his initial description of the Burgess Shale sponges in 1920. The genus was re-examined by Rigby in 1986. Rigby and Collins (2004) also redescribed the genus and proposed a new species, W. elongata.

Description:

Morphology:

Wapkia is a large elongate or oval sponge with bundles of coarse and fine spicules aligned in long vertical columns and distinct horizontal bundles. The surface of the sponge is smooth and lacks any vertical or horizontal ridges. Spicules are straight and pointed at both ends (oxeas). The exact position of the various bundles of spicules in the skeleton is still uncertain, but it seems that the inner part of the skeleton is reticulate with horizontal wrinkles that are typical of the species and produced by horizontal bundles of spicules. The dermal layer is formed by bundles of oxeas up to 60 mm long which give a characteristic plumose aspect to this sponge. W. elongata is distinguished from W. grandis based on the overall shape of the sponge and different skeletal structures (varying distance between the horizontal spicule bundles).

Abundance:

Wapkia is rare and represents only 0.06% of the Walcott Quarry community (Caron and Jackson, 2008).

Maximum Size:
170 mm

Ecology:

Life habits: Suspension feeder
Feeding strategies: Suspension feeder
Ecological Interpretations:

Wapkia would have lived attached to the sea floor. Particles of organic matter were extracted from the water as they passed through canals in the sponge’s wall.

References:

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

RIGBY, J. K. 1986. Sponges of the Burgess shale (Middle Cambrian), British Columbia. Palaeontographica Canadiana, 2: 105 p.

RIGBY, J. K. AND D. COLLINS. 2004. Sponges of the Middle Cambrian Burgess Shale and Stephen Formations, British Columbia. Royal Ontario Museum Contributions in Science (1): 155 p.

WALCOTT, C. D. 1920. Middle Cambrian Spongiae. Cambrian Geology and Paleontology IV. Smithsonian Miscellaneous Collections, 67(6): 261-365.

Other Links:

None