Bundenbach Carpoid Fossil with Extraordinary Preservation

Name: Mitrata: Rhenocystis latipedunculata

Geological Time: Lower Devonian Seigenian/Emsian Stage

Size: 29 mm by 8 mm with 25 mm “tail” on a 135 by 190 mm matrix

Fossil Site: Hunsruck Slate, Bundenbach Germany

Rhenocystis Bundenbach CarpoidThis is a well preserved specimen of a anomalocystoid mitrate carpoid known as Rhenocystis latipedunculata. The term mitrate derives from the carpoid’s shape which is similar to a bishop’s mitre. The Hunsruck slate is famous for its fossils, many of which have pyritization Bundenbach Carpoidpresent. Rapid burial and pyritization was what led to the many wonderful examples of early Devonian life from the region. The mudstones were metamorphosed into slate during the Carboniferous. The slate was quarried for roofing tiles, and the quarrymen would save the fossils for later sale. Now that the quarries are no longer open, future supplies of these wonderfully-preserved benthic organisms will only come from existing collections.

The carpoid body was supported by a skeleton of calcitic plates like those found in modern Echinoderms. They had a spiny “tail” by which they are thought to have pushed their way through the muddy bottom. Some believe that a carpoid may have been the common ancestor between Echinoderms and Vertebrates. It is important to note the carpoids differ from ALL other animals, living and extinct, in that many are completely asymmetrical.

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