understudied House Range of Utah yields numerous fossils that
are enigmatic, and this is one of them. Notice the cursory resemblance
to the spindle with skewers used to hold sweet corn, earning
the colloquial name "corn cob holder”. There is marked
annulation to the body, and the spikes at the end (which end,
or back?) are also quite evident. The House Range is one of the
world's Burgess Shale like Lagerstatten, though this is not well
known. Whatever this animal is, it exhibits soft-tissue preservation
like the Burgess Shale and Chengjiang.
House Range of Utah has several formations that exhibit Burgess
Shale-like preservation of soft tissues, and yield fossils of creatures
closely allied with the Burgess Shale biota. Interestingly, the
formations are normally found in alternating biofacies. Some are
rich in trilobites lacking soft bodied organisms, while adjacent
ones lack trilobites but preserve soft bodied organisms in the form
of kerogenized carbon films. Gaines (2004) has studied the taphonomy
of House Range soft tissue preservation, hypothesizing a taphonomic
pathway much like the Burgess Shale with delayed decay facilitating
rapid diagenesis in an anoxic zone lacking benthic bioturbators.
While soft bodied organisms are far rarer and generally not so exquisitely
preserved as in the Burgess Shale, some scientists believe the House
Range biota might be even more diverse. Many fossils found are enigmatic
as to their taxonomic placement. Unfortunately, the numerous sites
are much understudied, while mining operations are resulting in
wholesale destruction of a potentially rich addition to the Cambrian
Image credit (CC BY-NC 4.0)
D.E.G., and R.A. Robison. 1984. Exceptionally preserved non trilobite
arthropods and Anomalocaris from the Middle Cambrian of Utah.
University of Kansas Paleontological Contributions, Paper 111:1-24.
Robert R.; Kennedy, Martin J. Droser, Mary L. 2004. A new hypothesis
for organic preservation of Burgess Shale taxa in the middle Cambrian
Wheeler Formation, House Range, Utah. Palaeo, 220:193-205.