Luolishania longicruris, Rarest of the Chengjiang Lobopodians
Cambrian Explosion Lobopodian
Name: Luolishania longicruris
Early Cambrian (~525 million years ago)
Size: 13 mm long
Fossil Site: Chengjiang Maotianshan Shale - Quiongzhusi Section, Yu'anshan Member, Heilinpu Formation, Maotianshan, Yuxi, Yunnan Province, China
The Lobopodians are small marine and terrestrial animals termed colloquially "velvet worms" or "worms with legs". While all Recent forms are terrestrial, most fossil Lobopodians are marine, and are known primarily from the Cambrian. Six named genera, each with a single species, are known from the Chengjiang Biota, making it the richest source of fossils of the type on Earth.
This Lobopod comes from Maotianshan (Mao Tian Hill), site of the original discovery of the Chengjiang Biota by Hou Xian-guang in 1984. The specimen is most striking, and concomitantly rare; as of 2004, only but six examples were known. A complete Luolishania is thought to be some 15 mm long, making this specimen typical. Each leg bears curved claws that are thought to have served the creature as an adaptation to crawling on other organisms. Luolishania has been found in association with Proferans. Some authors suggest that Luolishania is most closely related to Xenusion from the Early Cambrian of Germany. The genus is unknown outside of Yunnan Province. This fine example has incredible detail, with its long legs clearly evident.
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