100 Word Post: Hurdia victoria


Illustration of Hurdia victoria by Marianne Collins. This marine predator lived 500 million years ago and reveals clues to the origins of arthropods. © J B Caron Royal Ontario Museum

Anomalocaris ruled the Cambrian seas but apparently so did a twenty centimenter cousin. Hurdia victoria, originally described in 1912, was known from just a jumble of crustacean-like pieces. An examination of new fossils, plus a few old ones, suggest a body architecture similar to the anomalocaridids including a segmented body with a head bearing a pair of spinous claws and a circular jaw structure with many teeth. However, Hurdia has a “prominent anterior carapace structure”, i.e. a head shield, but the emptiness of the structure suggests it did not protect soft parts and casts uncertainty about its purpose.

Daley, A., Budd, G., Caron, J., Edgecombe, G., & Collins, D. (2009). The Burgess Shale Anomalocaridid Hurdia and Its Significance for Early Euarthropod Evolution Science, 323 (5921), 1597-1600 DOI: 10.1126/science.1169514

Dr. M (1729 Posts)

Craig McClain is the Assistant Director of Science for the National Evolutionary Synthesis Center, a National Science Foundation supported initiative. He has conducted deep-sea research for 20 years and published over 50 papers in the area. He has participated in and led dozens of oceanographic expeditions taken him to the Antarctic and the most remote regions of the Pacific and Atlantic. Craig’s research focuses on how energy drives the biology of marine invertebrates from individuals to ecosystems, specifically, seeking to uncover how organisms are adapted to different levels of carbon availability, i.e. food, and how this determines the kinds and number of species in different parts of the oceans. Craig’s research has been featured on National Public Radio, Discovery Channel, Fox News, National Geographic and ABC News. In addition to his scientific research, Craig also advocates the need for scientists to connect with the public and is the founder and chief editor of the acclaimed Deep-Sea News (http://deepseanews.com/), a popular ocean-themed blog that has won numerous awards. His writing has been featured in Cosmos, Science Illustrated, American Scientist, Wired, Mental Floss, and the Open Lab: The Best Science Writing on the Web. His forthcoming book, Science of the South (http://www.scienceofthesouth.com/), connects cultural icons of South such as pecan pie with the science behind them.

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2 comments on “100 Word Post: Hurdia victoria
  1. I think you might have misread some units somewhere – the paper says “specimens are up to 200 mm in length” (in fact, the largest is 20.9 cm according to the supplementary information).

  2. I had actually read in a discussion on Hurdia that the were quite large, if you scaled up from the largest known Hurdia fragment. However, I cannot seem to find the reference now. As you state the authors state their largest specimen is around 20cm.

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