No revisions of this alga have been published since its original description by Walcott (1919) and its affinities remain uncertain.
Wahpia – unspecified.
insolens – from the Latin insolens, “unusual, different.” This probably refers to the unusual branches of this alga.
Burgess Shale and vicinity: W. mimica Walcott, 1919 and W. virgata Walcott, 1919 from the Walcott Quarry.
Other deposits: none.
The Walcott Quarry on Fossil Ridge. The Trilobite Beds on Mount Stephen.
Wahpia was described by Charles Walcott (1919) as a possible red alga. However, like all the algae from the Burgess Shale, it awaits a modern redescription.
This simple alga has a long central stem with long narrow branches diverging from it at a 45 degree angle; these branches give rise to smaller branches with up to two additional branchings. The central stem is hollow. W. mimica and W. virgata differ from W. insolens based on size differences of the central stem and the number and flexibility of the branches.
Wahpia is very rare and represents only 0.06% of the Walcott Quarry community (Caron and Jackson, 2008).
The morphology of this alga suggests it was attached to the sea floor rather than being free floating.
CARON, J.-B. AND D. A. JACKSON. 2008. Paleoecology of the Greater Phyllopod Bed community, Burgess Shale. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology, 258: 222-256.
WALCOTT, C. 1919. Cambrian Geology and Paleontology IV. Middle Cambrian Algae. Smithsonian Miscellaneous Collections, 67(5): 217-260.