Thursday, June 30, 2011


Palaeospondylus was a mysterious worm-like fish which has been described as a larval tetrapod, lungfish, unarmored placoderm, and agnathan.

Palaeospondylus was discovered in Scotland and is 2" long. This image shows Coccosteus attacking four Palaeospondylus.

Palaeospondylus may have been a parasite or an early lungfish.

Palaeospondylus had a weird basket-like formation in the skull, but the use for this basket-like formation is unknown.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011


There are two species of Amplectobelua: Amplectobelua stephenensis and Amplectobelua symbrachiata. A. stephenensis was found in the Burgess Shale, and A. symbrachiata was found in the Chengjiang. This image shows Amplectobelua swimming with two Myllokunmingia and probably trying to eat them.

There are two main differences between Amplectobelua symbrachiata and Anomalocaris saron. Amplectobelua symbrachiata had one huge spine in each claw, which Anomalocaris saron did not have. And Amplectobelua had its swimmers biggest in front and smallest at the back, which Anamolocaris saron did not have.

Amplectobelua had two feeler-like cerci sticking out the posterior end. Complete fossils of Amplectobelua are rare. The most common pieces of Amplectobelua are the claws.

Amplectobelua was a dinocarid, related to Anomalocaris, Opabinia, Kerygmachela, Pambdelurion, Sanctacaris, and Hurdia.

Like Anomalocaris, Amplectobelua may have eaten trilobites, worms, and even other dinocarids.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011


Hurdia was a one-and-a-half foot anomalocarid found in the Burgess Shale. Like its relative Anomalocaris, it was mistaken for other creatures such as shrimp, sea cucumbers, and jellyfish. It had a wide, flat telson at the end, which was probably strong and could push Hurdia through the water very quickly to catch prey.

There is only one species of Hurdia, Hurdia victoria.

Hurdia had a pointed head structure, but the use for this structure is unknown. The head shield was hollow, which may have been used to move Hurdia up and down like a submarine. But this is just a guess, because no one really knows if this is what Hurdia really used its hollow head shield for.

Unlike its relative Anomalocaris and many other anomalocarids, Hurdia did not have swimmers on the sides of its body.

Scientists don't know what Hurdia had been eating, because no one has found anything from the gut or any feces of Hurdia. But Hurdia probably was one of the top predators, and ate things like trilobites, worms, and even other anomalocarids.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Schinderhannes bartelsi.

Schinderhannes bartelsi was an anomalocarid from the early Devonian. It was 10 cm long. It propelled itself through the water with the two paddles on the head, and steered itself with the smaller paddles near the spine at the posterior end.

Schinderhannes bartelsi had eleven armored segments which had gills on the bottom. Schinderhannes bartelsi is known from one specimen from Germany.

Schinderhannes bartelsi probably hunted trilobites and ate them just like its relative Anomalocaris from the Cambrian and Ordovician periods.

Sunday, June 26, 2011


Tribrachidium was a strange genus of ediacara which has been found in Russia, Ukraine, and Australia. 

Tribrachidium has been described as a member of many groups. It probably lived on the bottom of the ocean filtering food. Like many animals from the Ediacaran Period, Tribrachidium was mysterious and little is known about it. 

Tribrachidium had trilateral symmetry, which means its three sides were alike. Tribrachidium's three arms were possibly hollow and could inflate and deflate themselves, possibly to move up and down in the water. It was about 2" or 5 cm. 

Tribrachidium is the only animal that has been discovered so far that is trilaterally symmetrical. So Tribrachidium may have been in its own group with no descendants. 

Saturday, June 25, 2011


Walliserops is a weird genus of lower-to-middle Devonian trilobite with a trident sticking out of its head. There are six species of Walliserops: Walliserops trifurcatus, Walliserops hammii, Walliserops tridens, and three undescribed species.

The use for the trident is unknown. Maybe it's for defense, maybe it's for detecting food under the sand (sort of like a built-in radar), or maybe it's for fighting other males to mate and the female doesn't have a trident, so it might be thought to be a different kind of trilobite.

This well-preserved fossil of Walliserops trifurcatus shows every detail, so scientists don't need to reconstruct it learn about it. Walliserops had to avoid predators such as Shinderhannes bartelsi, Dunkleosteus, Eusthenodon, and Eusthenopteron.

The family of trilobites which was wiped out in the Permian must have been very successful because all other families of trilobites were wiped out in either Ordovician or Devonian.

Walliserops isn't the only trilobite with a weird head. The Permian trilobite Keryopigee had a head shaped like a pointy top hat. But Walliserops probably isn't related to Cheiropyge because Cheiropyge only had one spike in the front of its head. Walliserops had a lot more spikes all over the body.

Walliserops trifurcatus was the only species of Walliserops with a long trident. The others had the trident directly attached to the head and not on a pole-like spike like trifurcatus.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Cameroceras (Part 1).

Cameroceras was a huge orthocone which was one of the largest, or even the largest, animal in the Paleozoic Era. Cameroceras probably fed on everything it could get, such as eurypterids, anomalocarids, fish, trilobites, and even other nautiloids.

Cameroceras looked like a squid inside a thin ice cream cone. It could have probably torn up any prey with its tentacles and gotten to the soft parts inside, if the prey had armor. Cameroceras was a genus of giant orthocone. It was 17 feet, or possibly even larger. Its name means "chambered horn" because of the ring-shaped chambers it had along its shell, which probably helped it go up and down by holding air in to go up and letting it out to go down. 

Cameroceras may have even eaten other Cameroceras. Cameroceras probably lived in deep water because if it was in shallow water it would not have been able to move because it was so huge.

Thursday, June 23, 2011


Xidazoon was an odd member of the Vetulicolia phylum. It had a round body with a flattened, oar-like tail, which it used to move. This image shows Xidazoon partly buried in the sand, probably as a way to hide from predators.

Xidazoon could have been a chordate, an ancestor of vertebrates, just like Pikaia. It had a v-shape of two spines at the tip of the tail. Xidazoon lived in what is now the Burgess Shale. It was 15 cm long, or 6 inches.

Xidazoon needed as much protection as possible. It needed a very strong tail and some spines at the end of the tail to whack predators if they tried to catch it by the tail. To hide it could have buried itself in the sand.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011


Banffia could have been a weird relative of Vetulicola, Xidazoon, Ooedigera, and Skeemella. Unlike its relatives, Banffia's tail was twisted up into a spiral. Like all its relatives, it had no jaws and a long tail. The anus is probably the notch at the end of the tail.

Banffia may not have kept its tail twisted into a spiral. It may have just twisted it into a spiral to move downward, then untwisted it and flapped it from side to side to move and go upward. Banffia probably died out because of having a design fault with locomotion. The mudslide buried creatures near the bottom, and if something can't move up fast enough in the water it will fall down to the bottom and get buried by the mudslide.

In this image, Banffia is shown descending alongside an invertebrate chordate called Pikaia, which could have been our earliest ancestor. Banffia probably descended to jump down on its prey and surprise it before it could get away, then suck it up into its jawless mouth.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011


Orthrozanclus was a weird spiny halwaxid with two plates of armor on top of its body, and surrounding them were scale-like plates on the bottom. It used its squishy foot to move along rocks. 

It had many protective spines surrounding the edge of the body. But this defense didn't work with some monster predators, such as Anomalocaris, because Anomalocaris could crunch right through those spines and get to the soft Orthozanclus inside. 

Orthozanclus had so many spines because it was not fast and could not swim to escape from predators like its relative Odontogriphus. 

Monday, June 20, 2011


There are two species of Dinomischus, Dinomischus isolatus and Dinomischus venustum. This image shows two views of Dinomischus venustum. Dinomischus was a rare Cambrian fossil. It is thought to be parasitic.

These are Dinomischus isolatus buried in the sand. Unlike Dinomischus venestum, Dinomischus isolatus had sort of a bulb that would anchor into the sand. It is thought that on the inside of the petals, Dinomischus had cilia which directed food into the mouth.

Dinomischus was a 4" high oddball animal that didn't fit into any modern group. It had a U-shaped gut, and the results were the anus was right next to the mouth.

Dinomischus looked sort of like a crinoid. A crinoid is an animal with a long, feathery stalk, then a top which looks something like a very skinny, hairy flower.

Sunday, June 19, 2011


Some scientists believe that this weird shelled creature called Odontogriphus was a type of creature called a halwaxiid. It had vicious fangs, which were probably for scraping algae off rocks, and may have been something called a radula. A radula is sort of like a snail mouth. Odontogriphus's shell had wrinkles on top of it. Although the shell was hard, it could be bent, just like your fingernail. 

Odontogriphus could live in all layers of the ocean because it could swim like an eel on its side, or use its carpet-like foot, which didn't cover the whole underside of its body, to move along on rocks. It had an oval of short hair-like things dangling from the edges, which were probably gills. 

Odontogriphus's name means "toothed riddle," which comes from its vicious fangs and that so little is known about it. It had eye-like saliva glands that could easily be mistaken for eyes, which were probably visible from the underside. 

Saturday, June 18, 2011


This is what Sarotrocercus was first thought to look like, crawling around on the bottom. But no one found any trace of a leg, so there was a reconstruction of it swimming on its back in mid-water and using its gills to swim and breathe.

Sarotrocercus was a pelagic animal, meaning that it is in mid-water, and in the Burgess Shale, mid-water animals survived the mudslide, which mainly buried nektobenthic and benthic animals.

This image shows a close-up of Sarotrocercus, because Sarotrocercus only grew up to two centimeters. But that's definitely not the smallest animal in the Burgess Shale because Haikouichthys was probably one of the smallest, because it was only one centimeter. That's the size of your thumbnail. Sartotrocercus had two big compound eyes on stalks, two feeding appendages right next to the eyes, many gills on the bottom (which was usually the top), and weirdest of all, Sarotrocercus had a long tail with a club of spines at the end, which was probably used for defense.

I have a video of myself doing today's post. 

Friday, June 17, 2011


Big thank you to PZ Myers and everybody visiting today to say such nice things about my son's blog. Art is thrilled to know there are so many people out there who care about the subject matter and appreciate the fact that he writes a science blog. Cheers! 

It may look like a mess, but I believe it's "organized."


Nectocaris was a weird creature which might have been a cephalopod. The image on the left shows an earlier idea of Nectocaris, but now they believe that the image on the right would be what Nectocaris really looked like.

When Walcott first discovered Nectocaris in the Burgess Shale, he never had time to study it. Then, later, someone described it to be an arthropod. Last year, in 2010, someone described it to be an early cephalopod.

Fossil evidence shows that mud must have gotten into the gills, so Nectocaris was probably a nektobenthic creature, meaning that it lived at the bottom, but swam above the sediment.

Nectocaris was probably either a predator or a scavenger, grabbing food with its two tentacles. Scientists aren't exactly sure if cephalopods started out with two tentacles then they evolved more over time, or if Nectocaris's two tentacles were just made up of its other tentacles.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Diania cactiformus.

Diania cactiformus could have been the missing link from lobopods to arthropods. It had strong armored legs and spines all over them.

Diania cactiformus had a rattle-shaped head with no eyes and a squishy body. Some of its twenty legs could stick upwards, possibly to grab prey. It was 2.4 inches long. Some scientists believe that the legs got armored before the body did in evolution between the weird soft-bodied worms and the arthropods.

This weird lobopod was discovered in China. Diania cactiformus has two nicknames, "walking cactus" and "cactus worm."

Wednesday, June 15, 2011


Lanarkia was an odd member of the thelodont group. Very close to the front, it had one thin pectoral fin on each side. On the caudal fin, it was basically just skin and bones. It had a very skinny v-shaped caudal fin.

Here are Lanarkia and some other thelodonts together. All thelodonts were jawless, so they had to suck in very tiny things into their mouths. 
There are two species of the genus Lanarkia. They are Lanarkia spinosa and Lanarkia horrida. 

Lanarkia lived in the Silurian Period and was a pretty small fish, so it had to avoid giant eurypterids, such as Pterygotus. 

Tuesday, June 14, 2011


Parexus was a bizarre acanthodian with a large spine in front of its dorsal fin. Like all acanthodians, like Climatius, Howittacanthus, and Gyracanthus, it had a spine in front of each fin. A very good adaptation if something is going to be near the bottom of the food chain. Acanthodians were small compared to the sharks and placoderms that they were living with.

Acanthodians, also known as "spiny sharks," appeared in the Ordovician and died out somewhere in the Permian, but definitely not at the end or near the beginning. Parexus was 6" long. A variety of acanthodians were 6" long, like Climatius. Parexus was from Britain, like Climatius. 

Acanthodians, like true sharks, lost old or damaged teeth and then new teeth grew in the spaces where those old teeth were.