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The Arthropod Odaraia alata Walcott, Middle Cambrian, Burgess Shale, British Columbia

D. E. G. Briggs
Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London. Series B, Biological Sciences
Vol. 291, No. 1056 (Apr. 27, 1981), pp. 541-582
Published by: Royal Society
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2395403
Page Count: 54
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The Arthropod Odaraia alata Walcott, Middle Cambrian, Burgess Shale, British Columbia
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Abstract

This, the first detailed description, interpretation and reconstruction of Odaraia alata, is based on all 29 known specimens. These include material of Eurysaces pielus Simonetta and Delle Cave, 1975, which is synonymized with O. alata herein. The head bore a pair of large eyes anteriorly and a paired mandible posteriorly. Features between these are poorly defined and the number of limb-bearing cephalic somites is unknown. The carapace was bivalved and essentially tubular in configuration, enclosing most of the body anteriorly. The trunk included up to at least 45 uniform short wide limb-bearing somites. The trunk appendages were biramous (with the possible exception of the first two), with an outer lamellate branch projecting dorsad of a segmented, spinose and apparently sometimes bifurcate inner branch which shows some evidence of variation along the trunk. The telson bore three large flukes, two projecting laterally and one vertically. The evidence suggests that O. alata fed by employing the carapace as a filter chamber within which the appendages, which trapped small pelagic animals, were confined. The arthropod probably swam on its back, using the appendages. Although the flukes did not articulate proximally, the telson appears to have been well adapted as a stabilizing and steering organ. O. alata shows some similarities to the Crustacea, particularly the Branchiopoda, but the preservation of the features of the cephalon is inadequate to allow its affinities to be determined unequivocally. It is classified in the family Odaraidae Simonetta and Delle Cave, 1975, but assignment to a higher taxon within the arthropods is not considered to be justified.

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