Grasping Appendage of Amplectobelua Anomalocarid

A Putative Terror of the Cambrian Seas

Amplectobelua symbranchiata

Phylum Uncertain, Anomalocarididae

Geological Time: Early Cambrian (~525 million years ago)

Size (25.4 mm = 1 inch): Fossil is 55 mm long (curve measure) by 30 mm wide (maximum) on a 110 mm by 90 mm matrix

Fossil Site: Chengjiang Maotianshan Shales - Quiongzhusi Section, Yu’anshan Member, Heilinpu Formation, Mafang Village, Anning Town, Yunnan Province, China

Fossil Code: CF426

Price: Sold

Amplectobelua symbranchiataDescription: This impressive specimen comes from the Early Cambrian Heilinpu Formation deposits near Anning, in Kunming County, Yunnan Province, China, The discovery of the Chengjiang Biota by Hou Xian-guang in 1984 opened a window onto a remarkable array of lifeforms from what is termed the Cambrian Explosion. The diversity of soft-tissue fossils is astonishing: algae, medusiforms, sponges, priapulids, annelid-like worms, echinoderms, arthropods (including trilobites), hemichordates, chordates, and the first agnathan fish make up just a small fraction of the total. Numerous problematic forms are known as Anomalocariswell, some of which may have represented failed attempts at diversity that did not persist to the present day.

This is the grasping arm of one of the “Terrors Of The Cambrian”, Amplectobelua symbranchaiata. The members of this group of enigmatic creatures are known from Asia, Australia, Europe, and North America, and are thought by many to be closely allied with the Arthropda, a position not held by all researchers. As of the publication of Hou’s book in 2004, some 30 examples were known, most being grasping arms like this one. The spiniferous grasping appendages are strongly suggestive of its carnivorous habits; some trilobites from Utah bear evidence of bite marks that have been attributed to its near relative Anomalocaris. The primary distinction between the 2 genera is that the spines of Anomalocaris are branched, while those on Amplectobelua are unbranched, as seen here. The proximalmost spine is also greatly elongated.

Also see: Chengjiang Biota Fauna List Chengjiang Fossils

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