Waptia ovata Maotianshan Shales Arthropod

with Preserved Antennae

Waptia (Chuandianella) ovata

Phylum Arthropoda (Crustaceanomorpha), Extinct Order Waptiida, Family Waptiidae

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

Size: 18 mm long (plus antennae); shell: 10 mm long by 8 mm across

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

Note: This description, from circa 1993-94 is superceded by more recent research, and the study of more and better specimens, but is here retained due to historical interest. See Chuandianella ovata for an up-to-date summary.

Waptia ovataDescription: This unusual arthropod is known as Waptia ovata. The species is known for a distinctively wrinkled carapace. This specimen has conderable soft tissue preserved. When Hou Xian-guang discovered the Chengjiang Biota in 1984 it ushered in much research into what has long been termed the Cambrian Explosion. The site yielded a huge diversity of of fossils with soft tissue well preserved. including: algae, annelid-like worms, chordates, echinoderms, hemichordates, medusoids, priapulid worms, sponges, and a large number of arthropods (including trilobites), and, importantly, the first Waptiaputative agnathan fish. There were also a large number of problematic forms that likely did not persist very long in this early Cambrian span, and left no ancestors during modern times.

Waptia ovata AntennaeThe systematic position of this taxon has undergone several revisions, and more can be anticipated. It was originally placed within the Ostracodiform genus Mononotella, then later referred to a new genus Chaundianella. More recent finds of remains other than the carapace have shown it to be similar to the Burgess Shale genus Waptia. While the species is known from other Lower Cambrian locations in Yunnan, Sichuan, Guizhou, and Shaanxi Provinces, only those from the Chengjiang Biota are known to show soft part preservation. This one shows the antennae preserved as well. The negative image makes the antennae more apparent. Note as well the 3-D nature of the shells, as most unusual preservation occurrence.

Images provided by: Eclectic Irony

Also see: Chengjiang Biota, Chengjiang Fossils, Cambrian Explosion

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