Marrella fossil from the Burgess Shale - ROM2008_10047_1

Burgess Shale fossil, Marrella splendens

Marrella fossil from the Burgess Shale

Geography: Canada, British Columbia: Yoho National Park, Greater Phyllopod Bed, Walcott Quarry Shale Member on Fossil Ridge, Burgess Shale Formation
Date: 1994
    • Attributes
    • Objects
    • Taxonomy
    • Kingdom: Animalia
    • Phylum: Arthropoda
    • Class: Marrellomorpha
    • Order: Marrellida
    • Family: Marrellidae
    • Genus: Marrella
    • SpecificEpithet: splendens
Object number: 56757
Not on view
DescriptionMarrella is one of the most common arthropods from the Middle Cambrian Burgess Shale. About 10,000 specimens have been collected by the ROM, and 15,000 additional specimens are known from other Museum collections. Most specimens come from a single locality referred to today as the Walcott Quarry. Although a few specimens of Marrella have now been found in other localities in the Canadian Rockies and China. This animal had a large number of body segments with delicate limbs including two pairs of antennae (one pair is clearly visible on this specimen). The most prominent feature is a distinct head shield with two pairs of spines that project back. A large black area at the rear of the animal probably represents the remnants of fluids seeping from the body during decomposition. Marrella was able to swim and walk using its numerous legs. One pair of antennae was transformed into a paddle-like appendage. This adaptation would have provided extra propelling force and potentially helped to bring small particulate matter toward the mouth directly below the head shield. The precise diet of this animal is unknown, but it might have been filtering tiny algae from the water column or from the surface of the mud.
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