Abstract

Here we report a locality containing exceptionally preserved (soft-bodied) fossils of mid-Late Ordovician age from the geologically complex Martinsburg Formation in central Pennsylvania. The fossils, which resemble specimens from Burgess Shale-type deposits, include enigmatic specimens (problematica) and phyllocarid arthropods (with preserved appendages) which are associated with graptolites. The locality is notable for preservation of a low diversity community of soft-bodied planktic animals, likely captured and rapidly buried by a turbidity current. The problematica lack sufficient anatomical detail for confident systematic placement; however, they can be superficially compared to a number of possible metazoans including: nominally/non- shelled mollusks (including veligers), cnidarians, lophophorates, or possibly aberrant tube-dwelling priapulids or polychaetes. Overall, the problematica may belong to one (or several) extinct clades or some unknown clade of animal life. The complex geologic history of the region has reduced the resolution of the problematica's original exceptional preservation, yet the fossils retain many key features. Hence, this locality has implications for our understanding of exceptional preservation, its alteration over geological history, and the planktic communities of “The Great Ordovician Biodiversification Event” (GOBE) in the planktic realm.

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