Mazon Creek Polychaete Worm Fossil with Preserved Bristles

Name: Rhaphidiophorus hystrix

Kingdom Animalia (Metazoa), Phylum Annelida, Class Polychaeta, Order Amphionomida, Family Amphionomidae

Geological Time: Pennsylvanian (~300 m.y.a.)

Size: 27 mm long on a 39 mm by 35 mm nodule

Fossil Site: Mazon Creek, Pit 11, Francis Creek shale, Braidwood, Illinois

Rhaphidiophorus hystrix The Polychaeta (Bristleworms) have a diverse representation among Mazon Creek specimens. The segmented bodies of the Polychaeta have paired lobes called parapodia which have a function in locomotion or respiration. The parapodia bear numerous bristles which are the source of the name of the class (Polychaeta means many bristles). Modern members of the family prey upon sponges; perhaps this one did as well This one is known colloquially as the “Oliver Hardy Worm” due to its presumed resemblance to the moustache of that famous comedian.

Also see: Annelid Fossils

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