Burgess Shale’s Weird Wonders

The fossils found in the Burgess Shale include the 500-million-year-old ancestors of most modern animals

(Painting by D.W. Miller. Courtesy of Smithsonian Institution)


Diagonella cyathiformis
(Maura McCarthy)
At about three inches long, Diagonella cyathiformis, or this “exquisite sponge” as Caron calls it, is nearly complete and consists of diagonally oriented spicules that form the skeletal elements of the body.

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