Temporal range: Middle Cambrian
|A. pedunculata fossil|
The genus name commemorates a mountain peak named "Ayesha" due north of the Wapta Glacier. This peak was originally named Aysha in the 1904 maps of the region, and was renamed Ayesha after the heroine of Rider Haggard's 1887 novel She. They are known from fossils found in the middle Cambrian Burgess shale of British Columbia, and from the Wheeler Formation in Utah. Similar forms are known from the lower Cambrian Maotianshan shales of China. Aysheaia has ten body segments, each of which has a pair of spiked, annulated legs. The animal is segmented, and looks somewhat like a bloated caterpillar with a few spines added on — including six finger-like projections around the mouth and two grasping legs on the "head." Based on its association with sponge remains, it is believed that Aysheaia was a sponge grazer and may have protected itself from predators by seeking refuge within sponge colonies. Aysheaia probably used its claws to cling to sponges.
Unlike many early Cambrian forms whose relationships are obscure and puzzling, Aysheaia is remarkably similar to a modern phylum, the Onychophora. Other than the 20 specimens from the Greater Phyllopod bed, where they comprise 2% of the community, only 19 specimens of A. pedunculata are known. A. prolata is the species from the similarly-aged Wheeler Shale Formation of Utah.
- "[[British Columbia Geographical Names Information System]] entry for Ayesha Peak". Retrieved 2010-05-17. Wikilink embedded in URL title (help)
- Caron, J. -B.; Jackson, D. A. (October 2006). "Taphonomy of the Greater Phyllopod Bed community, Burgess Shale". PALAIOS 21 (5): 451–465. doi:10.2110/palo.2003.P05-070R.
"Aysheaia pedunculata". Burgess Shale Fossil Gallery. Virtual Museum of Canada. 2011.
Further reading 
- Whittington, H. B. (16 November 1978). "The Lobopod animal Aysheaia pedunculata Walcott, Middle Cambrian, Burgess Shale, British Columbia". Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London, Series B, Biological Sciences 284 (1000): 165–197. Bibcode:1978RSPTB.284..165W. doi:10.1098/rstb.1978.0061. JSTOR 2418243.
- Robison, R. A. (1985). "Affinities of Aysheaia (Onychophora), with Description of a New Cambrian Species". Journal of Paleontology (Paleontological Society) 59 (1): 226–235. JSTOR 1304837.