Well....that's just odd.

Arthropods. Arthropods are creatures that have exoskeletons, segmented bodies and jointed appendages. Modern arthropods include insects, arachnids and crustaceans. And, if you think there are some strange looking ones today, you should have seen the ones 500 million years ago.

The first fossil that Charles Walcott discovered was a Marrella.

This was also the most common of the fossils found in the Burgess Shale. Walcott called it a Lace Crab. It is thought to have skimmed just above the sediment feeding on smaller arthropods and planktons. It grew to a size of about 3/4 inch.

Next up is the Hallucigenia.

When first found, it was thought to have been an appendage of a larger creature, and was generally reconstructed upside down. It was about an inch long.

Next we see Opabinia.

Opabinia was an odd duck. It had five eyes, and a long proboscis that ended in a clamp that was used to snag prey. It's mouth was on it's underside, and it used the proboscis to guide the food into it's gaping maw.

Opabinia grew to a length of about 4 inches.

Here we have Anomalocarsis.

Anomalocaris was the first super-predator the Earth has ever seen. It's fossils were first found in several pieces, making scientists believe it was actually several creatures. It's mouth was a circular disk with a square opening. It was first classified as it's own species called Petoya.

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It used 2 arms covered in spikes to grab it's prey. It's mouth was also on it's underside, and the arms brought the prey to it's mouth. There, it's square mouth didn't chew it's food so much as it sheered it into digestible chunks.

It wasn't until complete Anomalocaris fossils were found that it was discovered all the bits and pieces were one animal.

Anomalocaris was virtually unopposed in it's superiority of the seas, even though it was only about three feet long.

Then, there's Haikouella.

Haikouella is the earliest known chordate, and that makes it a very special animal to us. Chordate refers to any animal that has a spine. With this being the first known example of a chordate, that means everything that has a spine, (like us), evolved from this little, inch long worm.

There are literally thousands of Cambrian critters I could show you today, like:

Waptia

Wiwaxia

and Isoxys

But I've run out of room.

Tomorrow, we'll be taking a look at one of the most successful animals to ever grace the surface of the Earth, Trilobites.

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