Thursday, 22 April 2010

Microdictyon Again

Yesterday I did not post a new critter and today has been the same, however, I do want to say more about Microdictyon. The small shelly fauna (left) of the early Cambrian are a group of fossils which are isolated hard parts, all small as the name suggests, and all are difficult to classify. Many of them are still mysterious, though occasionally discoveries are made which put some of them into context, often throwing up surprises. Microdictyon  means "little net" and was the name of a phosphatic microfossil in the early Cambrian. The microfossils have a distinct net like structure, hence the name.

It wasn't until fossils in 1989 were found with soft tissue preserved. Nobody could have predicted that it would turn out to be an armoured lobopodian. The sclerites were found to sit just above the lobopods, on each side, looking like shoulder pads. It is likely that they were used for defensive purposes, though it has even been suggested that they were compound eyes like those of trilobites.

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