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More than 1/2 BILLION years old, the fossils of the Burgess Shale fauna preserve for us an intriguing glimpse of early animal life on Earth. These fossils are named after a Cambrian rock formation (the Burgess Shale) that is located in the western Canadian Rockies.
This fearsome-looking beast is the largest known Burgess Shale animal. Some related specimens found in China reach a length of six feet! The giant limbs in front, which resemble shrimp tails, were used to capture and hold its prey. A formidable mouth on the undersurface of the head had a squared ring of sharp teeth that could close in like nippers to crack the exoskeleton of arthropods or other prey. With those large eyes and a body half flanked with a series of swimming lobes, this must have been an active, formidable predator! Anomalocaris is one of the most widely distributed of the Burgess Shale animals. In addition to Canada and China, specimens have been unearthed in Cambrian deposits in Greenland and Utah.