Waptia

Name: Waptia ‭(‬named after Mount Wapta‭)‬.
Phonetic: Wap-te-ah.
Named By: Charles Doolittle Walcott‭ ‬-‭ ‬1912.
Classification: Arthropoda,‭ ‬Crustaceomorpha,‭ ‬Waptiida,‭ ‬Waptiidae.
Species: W.‭ ‬fieldensis‭ (‬type‭)‬.
Diet: Detritivore.
Size: Body length roughly about‭ ‬8‭ ‬centimetres long.
Known locations: Canada,‭ ‬British Columbia‭ ‬-‭ ‬Burgess Shale.‭ ‬China‭ ‬-‭ ‬Yuanshan Formation.‭ ‬Possibly USA.
Time period: Mid Cambrian.
Fossil representation: Multiple individuals.

       Waptia was amongst some of the first fossil animals ever described by the famous American palaeontologist Charles Doolittle Walcott,‭ ‬who today is best remembered for his work upon Cambrian era animals,‭ ‬especially those from the Burgess Shale Formation of Canada.‭ ‬Superficially,‭ ‬Waptia loosely resembles modern shrimps,‭ ‬however most researchers agree that Waptia is not a true shrimp,‭ ‬and while Waptia is usually listed as a crustaceomorph,‭ ‬most don’t consider Waptia to be a true crustacean‭ (‬which shrimps are‭)‬.
       Waptia had a bivaled carapace that covered the cephalon‭ (‬head‭) ‬and the thorax‭ (‬upper body‭)‬.‭ ‬Behind this a segmented abdomen trailed behind and ended in a tail fan as well as a telson‭ (‬a spike-like projection that grows from the very end of the abdomen‭)‬.‭ ‬The fan in particular is interesting as this feature is also seen in shrimps where it is used both as a stabiliser for swimming as well as quick means of backwards propulsion through flicking to escape predators.‭ ‬This is something that modern shrimps do,‭ ‬and so even if Waptia was not related to modern shrimps,‭ ‬it may well have developed similar adaptations,‭ ‬either through convergent evolution or a shared common ancestor.
       Another area where Waptia comes close to modern shrimps in living ability is in eyesight.‭ ‬The level of visual acuity is debatable,‭ ‬but most researchers agree that Waptia would have been at the very least capable of distinguishing between light and dark,‭ ‬and hence movement of other animals in its surroundings.‭ ‬Waptia may even have been capable of rudimentary sight in a similar manner to our own,‭ ‬though at the time of writing this idea is not conclusively proven.
       Waptia is known to have had a hard outer shell,‭ ‬though the common distortion of this shell caused by the pressures of fossilisation does indicate that this shell would have been quite thin and still fairly pliable in life.‭ ‬For the most part Waptia would have been a bottom dwelling detritivore,‭ ‬scouring the sea bed in the search of small morsels of organic matter.

Further reading
-‭ ‬Addenda to descriptions of Burgess shale fossils.‭ ‬-‭ ‬Smithsonian Miscellaneous Collections‭ ‬85‭ (‬3‭)‬:‭ ‬1‭–‬46.‭ ‬-‭ ‬Charles Doolittle Walcott‭ ‬-‭ ‬1931.
-‭ ‬Taphonomy of the Greater Phyllopod Bed community,‭ ‬Burgess Shale.‭ ‬-‭ ‬PALAIOS‭ ‬21‭ (‬5‭)‬:‭ ‬451‭–‬65.‭ ‬-‭ ‬Jean-Bernard Caron‭ & ‬Donald A.‭ ‬Jackson‭ ‬-‭ ‬2006.
-‭ ‬Paleoecology of the Greater Phyllopod Bed community,‭ ‬Burgess Shale.‭ ‬-‭ ‬Palaeogeography,‭ ‬Palaeoclimatology,‭ ‬Palaeoecology‭ ‬258:222-256.‭ ‬-‭ ‬Jean-Bernard Caron‭ & ‬Donald A.‭ ‬Jackson‭ ‬-‭ ‬2008.
-‭ ‬Some observations on the sensory organization of the crustaceamorph Waptia fieldensis Walcott.‭ ‬-‭ ‬Palaeontographica Canadiana‭ (‬31‭)‬:‭ ‬157‭–‬169.‭ ‬-‭ ‬Nicholas J.‭ ‬Strausfeld‭ ‬-‭ ‬2011.



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