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Temporal range: Burgess Shale
Reconstruction of Sidneyia
Scientific classification

Walcott, 1911
Type species
Sidneyia inexpectans
Walcott, 1911
  • S. inexpectans Walcott, 1911
  • S. sinica Zhang & Shu, 2002

Sidneyia is an extinct arthropod known from fossils found in the Cambrian-age Burgess Shale formation of British Columbia. 144 specimens of Sidneyia are known from the Greater Phyllopod bed, where they comprise 0.27% of the community.[1]

General description[edit]


Sidneyia ranged from 2 to 5 inches (51 to 127 mm) in length and is one of the largest arthropods found at the site. It is thought to have been a benthic carnivore that walked along the sea floor in search of hard-shelled prey. Gut contents have revealed that Sidneyia fed on hyolithids (molluscs) and other small crustaceans and trilobites. Its exquisitely preserved gnathobases resemble those of Limulus, and were probably used to crush prey.[2]

Sidneyia was discovered in 1910 during the first day of Charles Walcott's exploration of the Burgess Shale. He named it after his elder son, Sidney, who had helped to locate the site and collect the specimen. The species name, Sidneyia inexpectans, is derived from the meaning of "Sidney's surprise".

About 200 specimens have been documented.


  1. ^ Caron, Jean-Bernard; Jackson, Donald A. (October 2006). "Taphonomy of the Greater Phyllopod Bed community, Burgess Shale". Palaios. 21 (5): 451–65. Bibcode:2006Palai..21..451C. doi:10.2110/palo.2003.P05-070R. JSTOR 20173022.
  2. ^ Bicknell, Russell D.C; Paterson, John R; Caron, Jean-Bernard; Skovsted, Christian B (2017). "The gnathobasic spine microstructure of recent and Silurian chelicerates and the Cambrian artiopodan Sidneyia : Functional and evolutionary implications". Arthropod Structure & Development. doi:10.1016/j.asd.2017.12.001.

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