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Department of Paleobiology

Waptia fieldensis (a crustacean)


Waptia possessed a bi-valved carapace and superficially resembled a variation on the Perspicaris body plan. However, it must have occupied an entirely different niche in the food chain. While it could swim using its gill branches and steer with its telson (tail flaps), the weak jaw appendages tell us that it probably spent far much more time living on the sea bottom, walking about on its jointed legs, and finding its food in the sediment. Its limited mobility (compared to that of Perspicaris) probably resulted in many more specimens being buried in the Burgess Shale. Its usual size was three inches.

  • Waptia

Waptia fieldensis (WHOP-tee-ah field-ENN-sis). After Mount Wapta, a mountain above the fossil beds where the specimen was first found, and Field, a nearby town. (Note, the suffix, 'ensis' denotes place, locality, or country.)

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