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Acorn Worms from the Cambrian Explosion

Soft-bodied worms from the Burgess Shale fossil beds in Yoho National Park, British Columbia, Canada have been known for over 100 years. They are known by the name Spartobranchus tenuis and are considered one of the most abundant species in the Walcott Quarry community. However, only recently has a detailed examination of their characteristics been made, leading to the conclusion that they are ancient examples of acorn worms. One member of the research team was Christopher Cameron from the University of Montreal, who studies modern-day acorn worms. Identifying the fossils was not problematic: “Spartobranchus is clearly an acorn worm,” he said in an interview. “It’s almost like someone took a picture of a modern-day animal – it’s absolutely astonishing.” These animals are not true worms but belong to a very different phylum: the Hemichordates. The name means “half chordate” indicating that hemichordates share some of the characters associated with chordates. This is relevant to some of the discussion below. Hemichordates comprise three classes: the Enteropneusta or acorn worms; the Pterobranchia – minute colonial tube-dwelling organisms; and the Graptolithina or graptolites. Pterobranchs were already known to be part of the Cambrian Explosion, so the inclusion of acorn worms in this flowering of animals is a significant addition to knowledge. According to Henry Gee in Nature:

“Before this report, the earliest-known fossil enteropneusts were Triassic, between 250 million years and 200 million years old. That Caron et al. extend the fossil record of enteropneusts back to the Cambrian period makes their findings notable, even with no other contribution.”

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4 Responses to Acorn Worms from the Cambrian Explosion

  1. This formation was formed by the biblical flood and it was only 4500 years ago.
    So there is no need for much differences in these creatures.
    They have not evolved but only back then was diversity fantastic.
    Anyways fossils are only snapshots of a creature in a moment of time.
    The time is the operative point in using these snaps to attack/defend evolutionary biology.
    Evolution or lack of it IS not in fossil form.
    Its all about connecting fossils/living creatures.
    Its not about biological investigation of the processes of these creatures and so is not relevant to scientific biological investigation.
    Just extra data based on presumptions of time.

  2. A friend points out the remarkable similarities to a Cambrian Rabbit.

  3. 3
    CentralScrutinizer

    mung @3,

    Here comes Peter Cottontail, hoppin’ down the bunny trail. Hippity hoppity Easter’s on it’s way…

  4. 4
    CentralScrutinizer

    @2 I meant. Ahhhhhh whatever

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