scinerds

dailyfossil:

Herpetogaster collinsi

Reconstruction by Marianne Collins

When: Mid Cambrian (~505 million years ago)

Where: British Columbia, Canada.

What:Herpetogaster is yet another one of the odd fossils found at the amazing Burgess Shale fossil locality in British Columbia, Canada. This amazingly weird form is known from several complete specimens, so as strange as its anatomy is, that is what was really there, there is very little speculative interpretation! The body of Herpetogaster  is roughly 1-1.5 inches (~3-4cm) long, and is thought to have been tough but flexible in life. The animal had a fairly clearly defined head region, with a centrally located mouth, with a paired set of tentacles on either side. These tentacles are thought to have been softer and more flexible than the relatively firm shaft of the main body. These two main tentacles had many sub-branches and would guide food towards the oral cavity. It is unknown if Herpetogaster was a pure filter feeder or if these tentacles actively ensnared small prey that swam too close in the Cambrian seas. The animal was attached to the substrate by a stolon or hold-fast. A number of Herpetogaster specimens have been found together on a single slab, indicating this animal lived in groups. 

Herpetogaster has been placed as a stem Ambulacraria. This is the group that includes echinoderms (starfish, sea urchins, sea cucumbers, etc) and hemichordates (acorn worms). As the living and fossil species in these groups of animals look very different from one another, the identification of a stem member is extremely important for our understanding of the evolution of both groups and helps to answer some questions about the poliarty of character states within each group. For example Herpetogaster is bilaterally symetrical, so therefore it shows that the radial symmetry of the echinoderms is a ‘new thing’ and that the bilaterally symmetry of the acorn worms is the primitive condition, and not a reversal. Additionally, knowing the morphology of a stem taxa on this branch will hopefully lead to the identification of the proper phylogenetic position for other ‘Problematica’ fossils in the Burgess Shale and other Cambrian (and older!) deposits.

I’ve hit several Burgess Shale forms previously, check them out here! 


And for more of Herpetogaster  specifically, go to the Royal Ontario Museum’s page on the specimen:

http://www.burgess-shale.rom.on.ca/en/fossil-gallery/view-species.php?id=66&ref=i&

 They have some great animations! 

  1. corpusstriatethem reblogged this from talknerdy2m3
  2. 2tbsofirony reblogged this from nidorinas
  3. nidorinas reblogged this from nidorinas and added:
    im reblogging this again because lOOK AT IT JESUS
  4. fluffysminion reblogged this from dailyfossil
  5. glamnarc reblogged this from dailyfossil
  6. fingeronthepulseofmysoul reblogged this from scientificillustration and added:
    ….I can’t unsee the fact that it looks like a penis :x
  7. ofbees reblogged this from scishow
  8. carltondaft reblogged this from scientificillustration
  9. all-hail-the-ice-queen reblogged this from pastellieria
  10. boomdeyadah reblogged this from ussawesome
  11. thecoolestshiz reblogged this from ussawesome
  12. istellar reblogged this from scishow
  13. jennayra reblogged this from ussawesome
  14. suavebaritenor reblogged this from scishow
  15. taken-out--of-context reblogged this from dr--grumbles
  16. biomo reblogged this from scishow
  17. madnesswithheld reblogged this from scishow
  18. prince--of reblogged this from calamitas
  19. hasbro-official reblogged this from calamitas
  20. calamitas reblogged this from ussawesome
  21. viva-la-butts reblogged this from ussawesome
  22. raminkarim-loser reblogged this from scishow
  23. minwoohoo reblogged this from scishow and added:
    hm… i thought it was a joke but apparently it was an actual specimen.
  24. iwouldratherbbc reblogged this from scishow
  25. talknerdy2m3 reblogged this from scishow and added:
    I don’t know how I feel about this… o_O
  26. spiritsrealm reblogged this from scishow
  27. breannsus-canadensis reblogged this from scishow
  28. crumblybutgood reblogged this from ussawesome