Waptia ovata, an Unusual Shelled Arthropod from Chengjiang

Waptia (Chuandianella) ovata

Phylum Arthropoda

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

Size: 28 mm

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


Waptia ovataDescription: This unusual arthropod is known as Waptia ovata. The species is known mostly from the distinctive wrinkled carapace. 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 well, some of which may have represented failed attempts at diversity that did not persist to the present day.Waptia

The systematic position of this taxon has undergone several revisions. It was originally placed within the Ostracodiform genus Mononotella, then later referred to a new genus Chaundianella. More recent finds of remains other than the carapace have shown it to be similar to the Burgess Shale genus Waptia. While the species is known from other Lower Cambrian locations in Yunnan, Sichuan, Guizhou, and Shaanxi Provinces, only those from the Chengjiang Biota are known to show soft part preservation (notice the gut line and segmentation) such as you see here, making it a highly desirable specimen.

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l Paleontology & Fossils l Paleobiology and Geologic Timeline l
l Fossil Amber l Ammonite Fossils l Dinosaur and Reptile Fossils l Fossil Kits l
l Crinoids and Echinoderms l Fish Fossils l Fossil Dealers l Insect Fossils l Invertebrate Fossils l
l Plant Fossils l Stromatolites l Trace & Ichnofossils l Trilobite Fossils l Vertebrate Fossils l