Anomalocaris fossil from the Burgess Shale - ROM2007_9601_6

Burgess Shale fossil, isolated claw of Anomalocaris canadensis

Anomalocaris fossil from the Burgess Shale

Geography: Canada, British Columbia: Yoho National Park. Raymond Quarry Shale Member on Fossil Ridge, Burgess Shale Formation
Date: 1992
length of fossil=10; width of fossil=2.5 cm
    • Attributes
    • Objects
    • Taxonomy
    • Animalia
    • Arthropoda
    • Dinocarida
    • Anomalocaris
    • canadensis
Object number: 61040
Not on view
DescriptionPreserved laterally, this specimen represents a single claw of the animal Anomalocaris canadensis. At least 10 segments bearing elongated spines can be seen. The longest spine is more than one centimeter long! Anomalocaris had one pair of articulated claws at the front of its body before the mouth. The animal probably used these claws to capture prey, or to break apart carcasses to bring food to their mouth. In 1892 a similar specimen from Mount Stephen was first interpreted by the famous Canadian paleontologist Joseph Whiteaves, as the tail part of a shrimp-like arthropod. For more than 70 years palaeontologist’s classified Anomalocaris fossils such as this as three different species. It was only after complete specimens of Anomalocaris were found that the jigsaw-puzzle was finally resolved. Finding a complete specimen is extremely rare, as the organic soft tissue decayed, different elements of the body disarticulated - particularly the harder more resilient parts such as the jaws and claws. Dinocarids represent an extinct group of primitive arthropods living in the open ocean waters that existed in the early and Middle Cambrian (520-505 Ma). Anomalocaris was the largest of the dinocarids known to date, and it was probably a fast swimmer and an active predator or scavenger. Related Works: See other images of Anomalocaris: Complete specimen, Isolated jaw, and the Anterior portion. Also see Laggania cambria
In Collection(s)
  • Invertebrate Palaeobiology