Abstract

Study of over 1000 specimens of Marrella splendensWalcott, 1912, out of the more than 9000 collected by the Royal Ontario Museum (ROM) since 1975, has produced new information on the anatomy, functional morphology, and behaviour of this most common arthropod in the Burgess Shale fauna. Among the new features recognized is the distinction between the alimentary canal and circulatory system; where the former is generally three-dimensional and slightly reflective, the latter never presents any relief and is very reflective. A larger range of size is now known, from 2.4 to 24.5 mm in length, with small individuals possessing 17 body segments to large specimens with more than 26 body segments, representing an almost complete ontogenetic series. The second pair of “antennae” is now interpreted as swimming appendages, since the five distal segments are dorsoventrally compressed, fringed with setae and with a considerable blood supply, providing a paddlelike appendage capable of producing a considerable propelling force. The ROM collections extend the geographical distribution of Marrella 13 km to the southeast and the stratigraphical range through the lowest five members of the Burgess Shale Formation.

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