Uncovering The Mystery That Is Hallucigenia

1749 Words7 Pages
Mary Owen
Professor Christopher Pantazis
BIO 102
23 March 2017
Uncovering the Mystery that is Hallucigenia For many years, little was known about the strange creature that is Hallucigenia sparsa. It wasn’t until Dr. Simon Conway Morris discovered its 508 million-year-old fossil in a part of the Burgess Shale Formation in Canada that we were able to discern that Hallucigenia isn’t as mysterious as once thought (Zimmer p. D4). In 1977, Dr. Conway Morris wasn’t the first to discover the animal, but he was oddly enough the first to publish an account of Hallucigenia (Zimmer p. D4). He is the founder of the name “Hallucigenia” as he named it based on its “dreamlike appearance” (Zimmer p. D4). Research on this strange creature has come a long
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Conway Morris was able to disprove this idea by assuming a general idea of what Hallucigenia would have looked like. The fossil found of Hallucigenia was like no other and raised as many questions as it answered. Based on his findings, Dr. Conway Morris described the creature as having a worm-shaped body with a row of tentacles on one side and on the other side was seven pairs of stilts and an unidentifiable bulb on the end (Zimmer p. D4). He believed the tentacles to be used for capturing food while the animal rested on the ocean floor (Zimmer p. D4). This description raised many questions. Where was the creatures head and how was such a small animal able to stably walk on spine-like stilts? (Gould p.12). However, in China, the discovery of a certain fossil uncovered much of the mystery behind Hallucigenia. Paleontologists Hou Xianguang and Lors Ramskold found fossils of what were clearly relatives of Hallucigenia in southern China (Zimmer p. D4). These fossils were a lot more discernable than the one Dr. Morris was observing. So by observing these fossils closely, Xianguang and Ramskold discovered that Dr. Morris had been looking at the creature upside down (Zimmer p. D4). They concluded that the assumed tentacles were actually seven pairs of clawed legs and the described stilts were long spikes that protruded from the creatures back instead of being used for mobility (Zimmer p. D4). Conflicting ideas on what Hallucigenia looked

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