New Furca Marellamorph from Burgess Shale Type Ordovician Site
"Evidence of the Great Ordovician Biodiversification Event"

Furca (Marellamorph)

Phylum Arthropoda, Class Marrellomorpha, Order Marrellida, Family Marrellidae (Walcott, 1912)

Geological Time: Ordovician

Size: Fossil is 33 x 33 (1 ¼”) mm length by width. The larger plate is 14 x 8 cm (5 ½ x 3 1/8”)

Fossil Site: Fezouta Formation, Oued Draa, Zagara, Morocco

Fossil Code: PFT476

Price: $2500.00 - sold

FurcaDescription: The Marrellomorphs are a stem group soft-bodied arthropods known from the Cambrian to the early Devonian. Because they lacked mineralized hard body parts, they exclusively occur in the fossil record in sites of exceptional preservation, often called Burgess Shale type sites. In fact, the first described Marrellomorph is Marrella splendens first collected by Charles Doolittle Walcott in the Burgess Shale of Canada. Marella is the most abundant and the most common arthropod found in the Burgess shale with over 15,000 specimens found. Walcott first described Marrella as a lace crab, and later formally described it as a trilobite. It was subsequently reassigned to class Trilobitoidea in the Treatise on Invertebrate Paleontology. Whittington described it as a stem arthropod in 1971, rejecting it as a trilobite, chelicerate, or crustacean. Other Marrellomorphs are known from various Lagerstätten, the oldest being the Kaili biota in the Guizhou province of southwest China. They are also known from the Silurian Herefordshire Lagerstätte in England, the famous Devonian age Bundenbach Hunsrück Slate of Germany and Ordovician area of Bohemia.

The Furca Marellamorph shown here was recently discovered in the Ordovician strata of the Fezouata Formation north of Zagora in southeastern Morocco. Van Roy et. al. (Ordovician faunas of Burgess Shale type, Nature 465, 2010) recently described the Biota from this new site containing "stem-group morphologies normally considered characteristic of the Cambrian". The site provide strong evidence that the Cambrian explosion fauna radiation persisted into the Ordovician during a period described as the "Great Ordovician Biodiversification Event". Unfortunately, there are few sites so far discovered where the conditions for preservation of soft-bodied animals existed in the early Ordovician.

This Furca Marellamorph was among a handful available at the Tucson fossils show, and was far and away the best of them commanding a concomitant high price; most are far less detailed. The fossil is both part and counterpart and has all six appendages present, as well as the head and long tapered segmented body. Note the delicate filaments structures preserved at the ends of the appendages. Absolutely no restoration or enhancement has taken place. The yellows and red are naturally occurring oxides. Some additional air scribe work was done to reveal the lower appendages.

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