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Temporal range: Burgess Shale
Scientific classification

Conway Morris, 1993
T. walcotti

Thaumaptilon is a fossil genus of animals from the middle Cambrian Burgess Shale which some authors have compared to members of the Ediacaran biota, generally believed to have disappeared at the start of the Cambrian, 539 million years ago.[1] It was up to 20 cm long, and attached itself to the sea floor with a holdfast.

Leaf-shaped, Thaumaptilon had a central axis extending to its tip, with many "ribs" radiating from it, in a similar manner to the ribs of a leaf. These may have had canals connecting them to the axis. One side of its surface was covered in spots, which might have been zooids.

Thaumaptilon is considered important due to its resemblance to some Ediacarans; it was believed to be a relative of forms such as Charnia.[2][3][4]

Forms related to Charnia were once believed to be related to sea-pens (pennatulacean cnidarians), although this hypothesis has been questioned based on several lines of evidence.[5][6]

The name Thaumaptilon is said to be derived from the Greek thauma, "wonderful", + ptilon, "soft feather".[2] In ancient Greek, thauma (θαῦμα) however means "wonder".[7]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Stratigraphic Chart 2022" (PDF). International Stratigraphic Commission. February 2022. Retrieved 25 April 2022.
  2. ^ a b Conway Morris, S. (1993). "Ediacaran-like fossils in Cambrian Burgess Shale-type faunas of North America" (PDF). Palaeontology. 36 (3): 593–635. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2012-03-09.
  3. ^ Crimes, T. P.; McIlroy, D. (1999). "A biota of Ediacaran aspect from lower Cambrian strata on the Digermul Peninsula, Arctic Norway". Geological Magazine. 136 (6): 633. Bibcode:1999GeoM..136..633C. doi:10.1017/S0016756899003179.
  4. ^ Jensen, S. R.; Gehling, J. G.; Droser, M. L. (1998). "Ediacara-type fossils in Cambrian sediments". Nature. 393 (6685): 567. Bibcode:1998Natur.393..567J. doi:10.1038/31215.
  5. ^ Williams, G.C. 1997. Preliminary assessment of the phylogenetics of pennatulacean octocorals, with a reevaluation of Ediacaran frond-like fossils, and a synthesis of the history of evolutionary thought regarding the sea pens. Proceedings of the Sixth International Conference of Coelenterate Biology: 497-509.
  6. ^ Antcliffe, J. B.; Brasier, M. D. (2007). "Charnia and sea pens are poles apart". Journal of the Geological Society. 164: 49. Bibcode:2007JGSoc.164...49A. doi:10.1144/0016-76492006-080.
  7. ^ Liddell, H.G. & Scott, R. (1940). A Greek-English Lexicon. revised and augmented throughout by Sir Henry Stuart Jones. with the assistance of. Roderick McKenzie. Oxford: Clarendon Press.

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