Temporal range: Early Cambrian–lower Upper Cambrian
|Detail of a fossil of Chancelloria eros, on display at the Naturhistorisches Museum, Vienna.|
Chancelloria is a genus of early animals known from the Middle Cambrian Burgess Shale, the Comley limestone, 178 specimens of Chancelloria are known from the Greater Phyllopod bed , where they comprise 0.34% of the community.the Wheeler Shale, the Bright Angel Shale and elsewhere. It is named after Chancellor Peak. It was first described in 1920 by Charles Doolittle Walcott, who regarded them as one of the most primitive groups of sponges. This appears unlikely, and it is currently placed in the enigmatic group Coeloscleritophora.
The Cambrian Period was the first geological period of the Paleozoic Era, and of the Phanerozoic Eon. The Cambrian lasted 55.6 million years from the end of the preceding Ediacaran Period 541 million years ago (mya) to the beginning of the Ordovician Period 485.4 mya. Its subdivisions, and its base, are somewhat in flux. The period was established by Adam Sedgwick, who named it after Cambria, the Latin name of Wales, where Britain's Cambrian rocks are best exposed. The Cambrian is unique in its unusually high proportion of lagerstätte sedimentary deposits, sites of exceptional preservation where "soft" parts of organisms are preserved as well as their more resistant shells. As a result, our understanding of the Cambrian biology surpasses that of some later periods.
The Burgess Shale is a fossil-bearing deposit exposed in the Canadian Rockies of British Columbia, Canada. It is famous for the exceptional preservation of the soft parts of its fossils. Atold, it is one of the earliest fossil beds containing soft-part imprints.
The Comley Limestone is an Early Cambrian Lagerstätte exposed in Comley, Shropshire, England. It is known for its phosphatic microfossils, which can be extracted by acid maceration and are preserved in three dimensions in a similar fashion to the Orsten fossils. It represents around 10 million years of deposition, and was deposited from 519 to 501 million years ago.
Aysheaia was a genus of Cambrian-aged soft-bodied, caterpillar-shaped fossil organisms with average body lengths of 1–6 cm.
Gogia is a genus of primitive eocrinoid blastozoan from the early to middle Cambrian.
Choia is a genus of extinct demosponge ranging from the Cambrian until the Lower Ordovician periods. Fossils of Choia have been found in the Burgess Shale in British Columbia; the Maotianshan shales of China; the Wheeler Shale in Utah; and the Lower Ordovician Fezouata formation. It was first described in 1920 by Charles Doolittle Walcott.
The Chancelloriids are an extinct family of animal common in sediments from the Early Cambrian to the early Late Cambrian. Many of these fossils consists only of spines and other fragments, and it is not certain that they belong to the same type of organism. Other specimens appear to be more complete and to represent sessile, bag-like organisms with a soft skin armored with star-shaped calcareous sclerites from which radiate sharp spines.
The Wheeler Shale is a Cambrian (c. 507 Ma) fossil locality world famous for prolific agnostid and Elrathia kingii trilobite remains and represents a Konzentrat-Lagerstätten. Varied soft bodied organisms are locally preserved, a fauna and preservation style normally associated with the more famous Burgess Shale. As such, the Wheeler Shale also represents a Konservat-Lagerstätten.
The fossils of the Burgess Shale, like the Burgess Shale itself, formed around 505 million years ago in the Mid Cambrian period. They were discovered in Canada in 1886, and Charles Doolittle Walcott collected over 60,000 specimens in a series of field trips up from 1909 to 1924. After a period of neglect from the 1930s to the early 1960s, new excavations and re-examinations of Walcott's collection continue to discover new species, and statistical analysis suggests discoveries will continue for the foreseeable future. Stephen Jay Gould's book Wonderful Life describes the history of discovery up to the early 1980s, although his analysis of the implications for evolution has been contested.
The Stephen Formation is a geologic formation exposed in the Canadian Rockies of British Columbia. Its rocks were formed during the middle Cambrian. It is famous for the exceptional preservation of soft-bodied fossils: the Burgess Shale biota. The formation overlies the Cathedral escarpment, a submarine cliff; consequently it is divided into two quite separate parts, the 'thin' sequence deposited in the shallower waters atop the escarpment, and the 'thick' sequence deposited in the deeper waters beyond the cliff. Because the 'thick' Stephen Formation represents a distinct lithofacies, some authors suggest it warrants its own name, and dub it the Burgess Shale Formation. The stratigraphy of the Thin Stephen Formation has not been subject to extensive study, so except where explicitly mentioned this article applies mainly to the Thick Stephen Formation.
Eldonia is an extinct soft-bodied cambroernid animal of unknown affinity, best known from the Fossil Ridge outcrops of the Burgess Shale, particularly in the 'Great Eldonia layer' in the Walcott Quarry. In addition to the 550 collected by Walcott, 224 specimens of Eldonia are known from the Greater Phyllopod bed, where they comprise 0.43% of the community. Species also occur in the Chengjiang biota, and in Upper Ordovician strata of Morocco.
Takakkawia is a genus of sponge in the order Protomonaxonida and the family Takakkawiidae. It is known from the Middle Cambrian Burgess Shale that reached around 4 cm in height. Its structure comprises four columns of multi-rayed, organic spicules that align to form flanges. The spicules form blade-like structures, ornamented with concentric rings.
The Phyllopod bed, designated by USNM locality number 35k, is the most famous fossil-bearing member of the Burgess shale fossil Lagerstätte. It was quarried by Charles Walcott from 1911–1917, and was the source of 95% of the fossils he collected during this time; tens of thousands of soft-bodied fossils representing over 150 genera have been recovered from the Phyllopod bed alone.
Cambrorhytium is an enigmatic fossil genus known from the Latham Shale (California), and the Chengjiang (China) and Burgess Shale lagerstätte. 350 specimens of Cambrorhytium are known from the Greater Phyllopod bed, where they comprise 0.7% of the community.
Eiffelia is an extinct genus of sponges known from the Middle Cambrian Burgess Shale as well as several Early Cambrian small shelly fossil deposits. It is named after Eiffel Peak, which was itself named after the Eiffel Tower. It was first described in 1920 by Charles Doolittle Walcott. It belongs in the Hexactinellid stem group. 60 specimens of Eiffelia are known from the Greater Phyllopod bed, where they comprise 0.11% of the community.
Halichondrites is an extinct genus of sponge known from the Middle Cambrian Burgess Shale. 7 specimens of Halichondrites are known from the Greater Phyllopod bed, where they comprise < 0.1% of the community.
Hamptonia is a genus of sponge known from the Middle Cambrian Burgess Shale and the Lower Ordovician Fezouata formation. It was first described in 1920 by Charles Doolittle Walcott. 48 specimens of Hamptonia are known from the Greater Phyllopod bed, where they comprise < 0.1% of the community.
Mackenzia is an elongated bag-like animal known from the Middle Cambrian Burgess Shale. It attached directly to hard surfaces, such as brachiopod shells. 14 specimens of Mackenzia are known from the Greater Phyllopod bed, where they comprise <0.1% of the community. Mackenzia was originally described by Charles Walcott in 1911 as a holothurian echinoderm. Later, Mackenzia is thought to be a cnidarian and appears most similar to modern sea anemones.
Louisella is a genus of worm known from the Middle Cambrian Burgess Shale. It was originally described by Charles Walcott in 1911 as a holothurian echinoderm, and represents a senior synonym of Miskoia, which was originally described as an annelid. 48 specimens of Louisella are known from the Greater Phyllopod bed, where they comprise < 0.1% of the community. It has been stated to have palaeoscolecid-like sclerites, though this is not in fact the case.
Leptomitus is a genus of demosponge known from the Middle Cambrian Burgess Shale. Its name is rerived from the Greek lept ("slender") and mitos ("thread"), referring to the overall shape of the sponge. 138 specimens of Leptomitus are known from the Greater Phyllopod bed, where they comprise 0.26% of the community.
Pirania is a genus of sponge known from the Middle Cambrian Burgess Shale and the Ordovician Fezouata formation. It is named after Mount St. Piran, a mountain situated in the Bow River Valley in Banff National Park, Alberta. It was first described in 1920 by Charles Doolittle Walcott. 198 specimens of Pirania are known from the Greater Phyllopod bed, where they comprise 0.38% of the community.
Wapkia is a genus of sponge with radial sclerites, known from the Middle Cambrian Burgess Shale. It was first described in 1920 by Charles Doolittle Walcott. 32 specimens of Wapkia are known from the Greater Phyllopod bed, where they comprise 0.06% of the community.
Achiasterella is a genus of scleritophoran known from the Burgess Shale and earlier (Branchian) deposits, and originally described as Chancelloria by Walcott. The species may represent form taxa rather than true species.
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