Temporal range: Middle Cambrian
Sanctacaris is a Middle Cambrian arthropod from the Burgess Shale of British Columbia. It was most famously regarded as a primitive chelicerate, a group which includes spiders and scorpions, although subsequent phylogenetic studies have not always supported this conclusion; it is best accommodated in the arachnate clade (i.e. as a stem-group chelicerate).
Sanctacaris specimens range from 46 to 93 mm in length. The head bears five pairs of grasping appendages and a sixth pair of large separate appendages. The grasping appendages each bear a short antenna-like second appendage. There are 11 body segments, each with a pair of walking legs and gills. There is a broad, flat paddle-like telson.
Originally Sanctacaris was called informally 'Santa Claws'. Its Latin name translates as "saintly crab". Unlike most other Burgess forms, Sanctacaris is not present in Charles Walcott's 1909 quarry and was discovered at a different level by Desmond Collins in 1980–1981.
- G. E. Budd, S. Jensen (2000). "A critical reappraisal of the fossil record of the bilaterian phyla.". Biological Reviews of the Cambridge Philosophical Society 75 (2): 253–95. doi:10.1017/s000632310000548x.
- Briggs, Derek E. G.; Collins, Desmond (1988). "A Middle Cambrian chelicerate from Mount Stephen, British Columbia" (PDF). Palaeontology 31 (3): 779–798. Retrieved April 4, 2010.
- Briggs, D.E.G.; Erwin, D.H.; Collier, F.J. (1995), Fossils of the Burgess Shale, Washington: Smithsonian Inst Press, ISBN 1-56098-659-X, OCLC 231793738
- "Sanctacaris uncata". Burgess Shale Fossil Gallery. Virtual Museum of Canada. 2011.