Aysheaia

From Academic Kids

Aysheaia pedunculata is a soft-bodied, caterpillar-shaped organism average body length of 1-6 cm. They are known from fossils found in the middle Cambrian Burgess shale of British Columbia. Similar forms are known from the lower Cambrian Maotianshan shales of China. Aysheaia has ten body segments, each of which has a pair of spiked, annulated legs. The animal is segmented, and looks somewhat like a bloated caterpillar with a few spines added on -- including six finger-like projections around the mouth and two grasping legs on the "head." Based on its association with sponge remains, it is believed that Aysheaia was a sponge grazer and may have protected itself from predators by seeking refuge within sponge colonies. Aysheaia probably used its claws to cling to the sponge.

Unlike many early Cambrian forms whose relationships are obscure and puzzling, Aysheaia is remarkably similar to a modern phylum, the Onychophora. Only 19 specimens of Aysheaia are known and it is also believed that some modern day insects, centipedes, and millipedes may have arisen from Aysheaia.

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