Odaraia is a genus of crustacean arthropod from the Middle Cambrian. Its fossils, which reach 15 centimetres (5.9 in) in length,[1] have been found in the Burgess Shale in British Columbia, Canada. 217 specimens of Odaraia alata are known from the Greater Phyllopod Bed, where they comprise 0.41% of the community.[2]

Odaraia alata
Temporal range: Cambrian Stage 3–Middle Cambrian
Odaraia alata.jpg
Odaraia in a brine seep.png
Reconstruction of a dead Odaraia in a brine seep
Scientific classification

Simonetta & Delle Cave, 1975

Walcott, 1912
O. alata
Binomial name
Odaraia alata
Walcott, 1912

Odaraia bore a large pair of eyes at the front of its body,[1] and may have had two smaller eyes in between.[3] It had a tubular body with at least 45 pairs of biramous limbs, and its tail had three fins – two horizontal, one vertical – which were used to stabilise the animal as it swam on its back.[1]

At least one Odaraia fossil (Odaraia alata) is particularly noteworthy for preserving features of the animal's brain in fairly high contrast. By virtue of their rapid decay rates, soft tissues such as brains and other ganglionic matter (along with other internal organs) are notably absent in the Cambrian fossil record, so this particular fossil is especially rare and remarkable.

Further readingEdit

  • Simon Conway Morris (1997). The Crucible of Creation: the Burgess Shale and the Rise of Animals. Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-286202-0.
  • Hou Xian-Guang; Richard J. Aldridge; Jan Bergström; David J. Siveter & Feng Xiang-Hong (2004). The Cambrian Fossils of Chengjiang, China: the Flowering of Early Animal Life. John Wiley & Sons. ISBN 978-1-4051-0673-3.


  1. ^ a b c D. E. G. Briggs (1981). "The arthropod Odaraia alata Walcott, Middle Cambrian, Burgess Shale, British Columbia". Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences. 291 (1056): 541–582. Bibcode:1981RSPTB.291..541B. doi:10.1098/rstb.1981.0007. JSTOR 2395403.
  2. ^ Jean-Bernard Caron & Donald A. Jackson (2006). "Taphonomy of the Greater Phyllopod Bed community, Burgess Shale". PALAIOS. 21 (5): 451–465. Bibcode:2006Palai..21..451C. doi:10.2110/palo.2003.P05-070R. S2CID 53646959.
  3. ^ Graham E. Budd (2008). "Head structure in upper stem-group euarthropods". Palaeontology. 51 (3): 561–573. doi:10.1111/j.1475-4983.2008.00752.x. S2CID 85297530.

External linksEdit