The Burgess Shale

Loricicaris spinocaudatus

A small, plump bivalved arthropod with spiny trunk

Loricicaris spinocaudatus, paratype, ROMIP 43188


Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Higher Taxonomic assignment: Hymenocarines, Family Protocarididae (Miller 1889).
Species name: Loricicaris spinocaudatus

Hymenocarines were early arthropods with bivalved carapaces and mandibles, forming the bulk of the first mandibulates (represented today by myriapods, crustaceans and insects) (Aria & Caron 2017; Vannier et al. 2018). Loricicaris was a close relative of Branchiocaris, both grouped within the eponymous family Protocarididae Miller, 1889—one of the oldest formal taxa from the Burgess Shale. The relationship of Protocarididae within hymenocarines, as well as the relative placement of hymenocarines within early mandibulates is still under investigation (Aria 2022; Izquierdo-López & Caron 2022).

Described by: Legg and Caron
Description date: 2014

Loricicaris — from the Latin “lorica,” meaning armoured or armour plating, referring to the armoured (spinose) appearance of the trunk, and “caris” meaning shrimp.

spinocaudatus — from the Latin “spinosus” and “cauda,” meaning spiny and tail respectively, in reference to the spinose trunk and tailpiece of this species.

Type Specimens: Holotype ROMIP 62143 and paratype ROMIP 43188, in the Royal Ontario Museum, Toronto, Canada.
Other species:

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

Age & Localities:

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

The Collins Quarry on Mount Stephen.

History of Research:

Brief history of research:

Following the discovery and initial excavation of the Collins Quarry on Mount Stephen (initially referred as “locality 9”, (Collins et al. 1983)), the small protocaridid material from the Collins Quarry had been referred to as possible juvenile specimens of Branchiocaris (Briggs & Robison 1984). The material was formally described much later as a new genus and species by Legg and Caron (2014), alongside Nereocaris briggsi, and interpreted in the light of a very basal placement of bivalved arthropods in the evolution of the group—a view that has since given way to the mandibulate classification of these taxa (Aria 2022).



Loricicaris has a stout, tubular, multisegmented body largely enclosed in a broad bivalved carapace with ample, lobate corners, like other protocaridids. Eyes are very reduced or absent. The very front of the animal bears a rounded sclerite. A pair of short, stout, multisegmented antennules are the most anterior appendages. The rest of the head is poorly known, but clawed appendages are present in proximity to the antennules. The trunk limbs bear round exopods; endopods are reduced or absent. The tailpiece is a pair of caudal rami bearing setae.


24 specimens (Legg & Caron 2014).

Maximum Size:
About 3 cm.


Life habits: Nektobenthic
Feeding strategies: Unknown
Ecological Interpretations:

Loricicaris was considered by its authors to be a nektobenthic deposit feeder, based on the possession of a swimmer body and three-dimensional preservation of the gut (Legg & Caron 2014). Loricicaris could be a predator or particle feeder like other hymenocarines.


  • ARIA, C. 2022. The origin and early evolution of arthropods. Biological Reviews, 97, 1786–1809.
  • 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. and ROBISON, R. A. 1984. Exceptionally preserved nontrilobite arthropods and Anomalocaris from the Middle Cambrian of Utah. The University of Kansas Paleontological Contributions, 111, 1–23.
  • 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.
  • IZQUIERDO-LÓPEZ, A. and CARON, J.-B. 2022. The problematic Cambrian arthropod Tuzoia and the origin of mandibulates revisited. Royal Society Open Science, 9.
  • LEGG, D. and CARON, J. B. 2014. New Middle Cambrian bivalved arthropods from the Burgess Shale (British Columbia, Canada). Journal of Paleontology, 57, 691–711.
  • MILLER, S. A. 1889. North American geology and palaeontology for the use of amateurs, students and scientists. Western Methodist Book Concern, Cincinnati.
  • 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.
Other Links: