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Burgess Shale fossil, complete specimen of Anomalocaris canadensis, Raymond Quarry
Scientific Name: Anomalocaris canadensis
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Dinocarida
Dimensions: Centimetres: 20 (length), 13 (width)
Period: Middle Cambrian, circa 505 million years
Museum ID Number: 51211
Image Number: ROM2007_9581_7

This is the most complete specimen of Anomalocaris canadensis known to date, and it is one of the highlights of the ROM’s Burgess Shale collection. The two yellowish spots visible at the top of the image represent the eyes of this animal. It had one pair of articulated claws at the front of its body, and part of one claw can be seen just below the right eye. Lateral lobes are clearly visible along the sides of the body and are thought to have provided this ancient creature with strong swimming abilities. The posterior end of this specimen bears a fan like structure, which was potentially useful for controlling movements within the water.

After decay, different elements of the body disarticulate - particularly the harder more resilient parts such as the jaws and claws. Consequently, finding a complete specimen like this one is extremely rare.

Anomalocaris belongs to the dinocarida class, an extinct group of primitive arthropods living in the open ocean waters that existed in the early and Middle Cambrian (520-505 Ma). Anomalocaris is 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: Anterior portion, Isolated jaw, and the Isolated claw. Also see Laggania cambria

Location: Raymond Quarry Shale Member on Fossil Ridge, Burgess Shale Formation, Yoho National Park, British Columbia

Habitat/Biome: Pelagic

Collection Date: 1991

Other Media:
Podcasts: Burgess Shale
Podcasts:Burgess Shale Collection Storage

Collins, D. 1996. "The "evolution" of Anomalocaris and its classification in the arthropod Class Dinocarida (Nov.) and Order Radiodonta (Nov.)." Journal of Paleontology, 70(2):280-293.

Whittington, H. B., and Briggs, D.E.B. 1985. "The largest Cambrian animal, Anomalocaris, Burgess Shale, British Columbia." Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London B Series B, Biological Sciences, 309(1141):569-609.

ROM Links:
ROM Research: Burgess Shale Projects
Curator: Jean-Bernard Caron

Credit: With permission of Parks Canada © Royal Ontario Museum 2008. Photo Credit: J.B. Caron. All rights reserved.

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