Shale Priapulid Ottoia
Time: Early Cambrian (~520 million years ago)
mm long by 6 mm wide
Site: Burgess Shale, Stephen Formation, Burgess Pass, British Columbia,
is a member of the Burgess Shale priapulid fauna known as Ottoia prolofica.
It is divided into an anterior proboscis and a posterior trunk region.
The proboscis is seen here everted, with the hook-like spines which
it presumably used to capture prey showing.
It is known to be a carnivore as examples have been found with several
members of the hyolithid Haplophrentis found in the gut. It is sometimes
found in a U-shaped orientation, presumably in its life pose (see
artist’s rendering). It is not believed to be closely related
to any other priapulid, and thus has been assigned to its own family,
fossil pictures to enlarge