Ancient Brachiopod from Chengjiang Biota with Preserved Setae
Brachiopoda - Heliomedusa orienta

Heliomedusa orienta

Phylum Brachiopoda

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

Size: 14 mm by 18 mm

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

Heliomedusa orienta Chengjiang fossilsDescription: This brachiopod is known as Heliomedusa orienta. The species is a relatively common member of the Chengjiang biota. The source of the specific name is easy to determine, but the reason is that the oval shape and redial patterning led the original describers to think it was a jellyfish.. 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 well, some of which may have represented failed attempts at diversity that did not persist to the present day. Unlike most brachiopods, Heliomedusa lacked a pedicle, leading scientists to believe it lay upon the surface of the sediment as an epifaunal filter feeder. Notice the fringe of stae thought to have served a sensory function. While the taxon had a widespread distribution throughout eastern Yunnan Province, this one comes from the most famous Chengjiang Biota locale: Mao Tian Hill, site of the original discovery.

click to enlarge fossil pictures

Heliomedusa orienta

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