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)


Marrella splendes
(Maura McCarthy)
Charles Walcott discovered the Burgess Shale in 1909, and one of the first fossil species he found was Marrella splendes. Marrella, also called the “lace crab” by Walcott, is an arthropod and could be ancestral to any of the three major groups of aquatic arthropods: crustaceans (like shrimp and crabs), trilobites (which are now extinct) or chelicerates (like spiders and scorpions).

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