Rare Shelled Branchiocaris Arthropod from Chengjiang

Branchiocaris sp.

Phylum Arthropoda

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

Size: 35 mm long

Fossil Site: Chengjiang Maotianshan Shales - Quiongzhusi Section, Yu’anshan Member, Heilinpu Formation, Ercaicun Village, Haikou County, Kunming, Yunnan Province, China

BranchiocarisDescription: This unusual Phyllocarid arthropod is known as Branchiocaris. Phyllocarids are one of the lesser-known branchiopod crustaceans from the Cambrian where they are among the earliest animals with a hard shell. They have a fairly large carapace, which protects the anterior part of the body. This structure hinged along the dorsal edge like a bivalve. Usually only the carapace is found. Rarely are the soft parts preserved. Branchiocaris has been placed by some as a near relative of Marella of the Burgess Shale, an assignment not agreed to by all researchers. This example has a hint of associated soft tissue seen to the left in the photos. The taxon is also known from the Burgess Shale of British Columbia, while another member of the genus has been found in the House Range of Utah.

click fossil pictures to enlarge

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