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 (1720 Posts)

Craig McClain is the Assistant Director of Science for the National Evolutionary Synthesis Center, created to facilitate research to address fundamental questions in evolutionary science. He has conducted deep-sea research for 11 years and published over 40 papers in the area. He has participated in dozens of expeditions taking him to the Antarctic and the most remote regions of the Pacific and Atlantic. Craig’s research focuses mainly on marine systems and particularly the biology of body size, biodiversity, and energy flow. He focuses often on deep-sea systems as a natural test of the consequences of energy limitation on biological systems. He is the author and chief editor of Deep-Sea News, a popular deep-sea themed blog, rated the number one ocean blog on the web and winner of numerous awards. Craig’s popular writing has been featured in Cosmos, Science Illustrated, American Scientist, Wired, Mental Floss, and the Open Lab: The Best Science Writing on the Web.

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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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