Onychodictyon ferox Lobopodian Fossil from Chengjiang

Name: Onychodictyon ferox

Phylum Lobopodia

Geological Time: Early Cambrian (~525 million years ago)

Size: Onychodictyon: 47 mm long on a 60 mm by 53 mm matrix

Fossil Site: Chengjiang Maotianshan Shales, Quiongzhusi Section, Yu’anshan Member, Heilinpu Formation Mafang, Anning, Yunnan Province, China

Onychodictyon ferox The Lobopodians are small marine and terrestrial animals termed colloquially “velvet worms” or “worms with legs”. While all recent forms are terrestrial, most Lobopodians in the fossil record were marine creatures. Most fossils are from the Cambrian, before life moved ashore. Six named genera, each with a single species, are known from the Chengjiang Biota, making it Onychodictyon ferox artthe richest source of Lobopodian fossils.Onychodictyon

Onychodictyon ferox is one of the most striking, and quite rare; as of 2004, only some 15 examples were known. The maximum length is 70 mm. It possesses a sclerotized head shield with 10 paired sclerotic plates, each associated with a pair of legs. Each leg has curved claws that are thought to have served the creature as an adaptation to crawling on other organisms. Onychodictyon ferox is most closely related to Aysheaia from the younger Burgess Shale fauna.

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