One of the most obvious things about Siphusauctum is how enigmatic it is. It looked like a ctenophore on a stalk. Some scientists believe that it is related to the mysterious Dinomischus. Siphusauctum and Dinomischus both have a stem and a round calyx, but they are actually very different. Dinomischus's calyx is more like a flower than a ctenophore.
|© Marianne Collins|
Siphusauctum had a two-layered stem and a holdfast at one end, which was probably used to anchor it to the sea floor. It presumably could draw its holdfast into the stem and move along the sea floor to find a new place to anchor itself.
Siphusauctum had a very simple gut, which was just a tube with a round part at the end, which was the stomach. It just sucked in water along with tiny creatures and plants, which were its food.
The size range for Siphusauctum is 19 mm to 223 mm. There are variable sizes for stems, holdfasts, and calyxes on different individuals of the species. One thing that stands out about it are the comb rows on its calyx, which resemble those of ctenophores. Although the two are unrelated, Siphusauctum has noticeable similarities with the ctenophores.
Siphusauctum are sometimes found in large clusters, suggesting that the animal lived in groups, like the possibly related Herpetogaster, also from the Burgess Shale. Its species name is S. gregarium because it was gregarious, meaning it lived in groups. Siphusauctum also resembles some crinoids, except crinoids had tentacles and Siphusauctum did not.