Rare Hallucigenia from Utah

Hallucigenia sp.

Phylum Onychophora, Family Hallucigeniidae (Conway Morris, 1977)

Geological Time: Upper Middle Cambrian

Size: 15 mm by 25 mm

Fossil Site: Spence Shale, Box Elder County, Utah

HallucigeniaThis is a fine though partial specimen of Hallucigenia, one of the most usual fossils made famous by research of the Burgess Shale. The genus is far better known from the actual Bugess Shale of Canada, but a very few specimens have also been found in Utah and the older Chengjiang Biota. Hallucigenia was named by Simon Conway Morris when he re-examined Charles Walcott's Burgess Shale genus Canadia in 1979. This fossil comprises anteriormost portion of the animal, with several of the paired spines (a complete specimen has seven pairs) and the hint of the head. This is a most rare example of the early life forms from the Cambrian Explosion of Utah, which many people do not even know exists.

Recent workers have compared the genus with another putative hallucigenid, Microdictyon, from the lower Cambrian Maotianshan shales of China, suggesting placement in Phylum Onychophora. There are other interpretations of the affinity of this long-enigmatic animal, such as that Hallucigenia is an armored Lobopodian.

Also See: Utah Cambrian Explosion Fossils


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