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The Burgess Shale

a fossilized opabinia
Smithsonian Institution

This creature with its five eyes is a strange looking one indeed. Wielding a long flexible proboscis tipped with grasping spines, its reconstructed image was greeted with laughter as a pretty good joke when first presented at a scientific meeting in 1972. The strange-looking reconstruction was soon confirmed, and this creature remains one of the oddities of the Burgess Shale fauna. Opabinia is thought to have lived in the soft sediment on the seabed, although it presumably could have swum after prey using its side lobes. On the bottom, the proboscis could have plunged into sand burrows after worms. Sizes ranged up to three inches, plus that unique, amazing one inch proboscis!