The Burgess Shale

Waputikia ramosa

3D animation of Waputikia ramosa.

ANIMATION BY PHLESCH BUBBLE © ROYAL ONTARIO MUSEUM

Taxonomy:

Class: Non applicable
Remarks:

No revisions of this alga have been published since its original description by Walcott (1919) and its affinities remain uncertain.

Species name: Waputikia ramosa
Described by: Walcott
Description date: 1919
Etymology:

Waputikia – from the Waputik Icefield, a glacier in Yoho National Park, east of the Burgess Shale.

ramosa – from the Latin ramosus, “full of branches,” in reference to the presence of clumps of branches.

Type Specimens: Syntypes –USNM35409, 35410, 35411 in the National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC, USA.
Other species:

Burgess Shale and vicinity: none.

Other deposits: none.

Age & Localities:

Period:
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:

This genus 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.

Description:

Morphology:

Waputikia has a large central stem with wide branches at irregular intervals. The large branches divide dichotomously (into two), and the smaller tertiary or quaternary branches divide into much finer branches forming small terminal bush-like structures.

Abundance:

Waputikia is very rare and represents only 0.02% of the Walcott Quarry community (Caron and Jackson, 2008).

Maximum Size:
60 mm

Ecology:

Ecological Interpretations:

No attachment structure for this alga has been preserved but it probably lived attached to the sea floor.

References:

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.

Other Links:

None

Wahpia insolens

Wahpia insolens (USNM 35424) – Syntype. Specimen showing typical mode of branching. Specimen length = 90 mm. Specimen wet – direct light (left), polarized light (right). Trilobite Beds on Mount Stephen.

© SMITHSONIAN INSTITUTION – NATIONAL MUSEUM OF NATURAL HISTORY. PHOTOS: JEAN-BERNARD CARON

Taxonomy:

Class: Non applicable
Remarks:

No revisions of this alga have been published since its original description by Walcott (1919) and its affinities remain uncertain.

Species name: Wahpia insolens
Described by: Walcott
Description date: 1919
Etymology:

Wahpia – unspecified.

insolens – from the Latin insolens, “unusual, different.” This probably refers to the unusual branches of this alga.

Type Specimens: Syntypes –USNM35423-35424 (W. insolens); Holotypes –USNM35413 (W. mimica);USNM35425 (W. virgata) in the National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC, USA.
Other species:

Burgess Shale and vicinity: W. mimica Walcott, 1919 and W. virgata Walcott, 1919 from the Walcott Quarry.

Other deposits: none.

Age & Localities:

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

The Walcott Quarry on Fossil Ridge. The Trilobite Beds on Mount Stephen.

History of Research:

Brief history of research:

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.

Description:

Morphology:

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.

Abundance:

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

Maximum Size:
90 mm

Ecology:

Ecological Interpretations:

The morphology of this alga suggests it was attached to the sea floor rather than being free floating.

References:

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.

Other Links:

None

Bosworthia simulans

Bosworthia simulans (USNM 35426) – Syntype. Specimen showing multiple branches emerging from a central axis (near the middle). Approximate specimen length (of the most complete branch) = 70 mm. Specimen dry – polarized light. Walcott Quarry.

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

Taxonomy:

Class: Non applicable
Remarks:

No revisions of this alga have been published since its original description by Walcott (1919) and its affinities remain uncertain.

Species name: Bosworthia simulans
Described by: Walcott
Description date: 1919
Etymology:

Bosworthia – from Mount Bosworth (2,769 m) on the British Columbia-Alberta border, in Yoho and Banff National Parks. Named in 1904 after George Morris Bosworth, the Canadian Pacific Railway freight traffic manager from 1896-1901.

simulans – from the Latin simulans, “make like” or “imitate”. The name refers to the repeated shape of the subdividing branches.

Type Specimens: Bosworthia simulans – Syntypes –USNM35426-35427 (Bosworthia simulans); HolotypeUSNM35428 (Bosworthia gyges) in the National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC, USA
Other species:

Burgess Shale and vicinity: Bosworthia gyges Walcott, 1919.

Other deposits: none.

Age & Localities:

Period:
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:

Bosworthia 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.

Description:

Morphology:

This alga is composed of a long flexible central thallus, from which long and relatively thick branches emerge. These branches may further subdivide into smaller branches and narrow along their length. Walcott (1919) described B. gyges as having more rigid branches than B. simulans. He hypothesized that there was probably a central stem and attachment structure that would have allowed the alga to attach to the seafloor although this structure has not yet been observed in the fossils. Bosworthia has been described from fragments only (up to 8 cm in length) and the complete size is unknown.

Abundance:

Bosworthia represents less than 0.04% of the Walcott Quarry community (Caron and Jackson, 2008).

Maximum Size:
82 mm

Ecology:

Ecological Interpretations:

The mode of life of this alga is uncertain. Its structure suggests it was attached to the sea floor within the photic zone, rather than being free floating.

References:

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.

Other Links:

None

Dalyia racemata

Sketch of Dalyia racemata.

© Marianne Collins

Taxonomy:

Class: Non applicable
Remarks:

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

Species name: Dalyia racemata
Described by: Walcott
Description date: 1919
Etymology:

Dalyia from Mount Daly (3,152 m), a mountain northeast of Fossil Ridge, just at the border between British Columbia and Alberta. The name was originally given by mountaineer Professor Charles E. Fay to honour Judge Charles P. Daly (1816-1899), president of the American Geographical Society (1864-1899).

racemata – from the Latin racemus, “the stalk of a cluster,” referring to the shape of the alga.

Type Specimens: Syntypes –USNM35415-35418 (D. racemata); Holotype –USNM35414 (D. nitens) in the National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC, USA.
Other species:

Burgess Shale and vicinity: Dalyia nitens Walcott 1919 from the Walcott Quarry.

Other deposits: none.

Age & Localities:

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

The Walcott Quarry on Fossil Ridge and the Trilobite Beds on Mount Stephen.

History of Research:

Brief history of research:

Walcott (1919) described D. racemata and D. nitens, but the latter was based on only one specimen and may not be a separate species. The validity of this genus is also questionable and it is likely that Dalyia represents only the distal branches of Yuknessia. Walcott’s proposed affinity of Dalyia with the rhodophytes (red algae) was briefly questioned in an unpublished thesis (Satterthwait, 1976). However, the relationships of all Burgess Shale algae await thorough restudy and redescription.

Description:

Morphology:

This form is composed of a central axis, from which emerge almost perpendicular, slender, straight branching stems that terminate in whorls of short branchlets, not exceeding five in number. The surface of the stems is generally smooth, but transverse lines in some specimens give a jointed appearance, which Walcott likened to the modern rhodophyte Halurus equisetifolius. The central axes are 0.4 to 0.6 cm in diameter and the largest specimens found reach up to 4 cm in height.

Abundance:

Dalyia is very rare and represents only 0.07% of the Walcott Quarry community (Caron and Jackson, 2008).

Maximum Size:
40 mm

Ecology:

Ecological Interpretations:

The mode of life of this alga is uncertain. Its rigidity suggests it was attached to the sea floor within the photic zone, rather than free floating.

References:

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

Other Links:

None