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Department of Paleobiology

Aysheaia pedunculata (a velvet worm)


Here the artist shows us an animal with an unusual assembly of spines and grasping arms at the head end. Its mouth lies in the center of that ring of six finger-like projections. Aysheaia is thought to have been a parasite living on sponges since it is commonly found in association with their remains (spicules). Presumably, the spiny parts at its head were designed for grasping and feeding on its prey. Note that the limbs of this animal are not jointed as with the arthropods of the Burgess Shale. Instead, they are tapered, lobe-like appendages, ten pairs in all, projecting from the body with its set of small rings or annulations. Its size ranged up to a little over that two inches in length.

  • Aysheaia

Aysheaia pedunculata (eye-SHAY-ah pea-DUNK-you-LAH-ta). After Ayshea, a mountain peak north of Waptia Glacier in British Columbia, Canada, + peduncle (L.), a diminutive for foot.

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