Branchiocaris Arthropod from Chengjiang
Time: Early Cambrian (~525 million years ago)
Site: Chengjiang Maotianshan Shales - Quiongzhusi Section, Yu’anshan
Member, Heilinpu Formation, Ercaicun Village, Haikou County, Kunming,
Yunnan Province, China
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.
fossil pictures to enlarge
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