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New Ordovician fossils with eyes and brains.

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  • New Ordovician fossils with eyes and brains.


    462 million-year-old fossilized eyes and brains uncovered in 'secret' Welsh fossil site

    By Patrick Pester
    published 1 day ago
    Wales' new "Castle Bank" fossil site could be among the world's most important deposits.

    A reconstruction of the Castle Bank fossils by Yang Dinghua. (Image credit: Nature Ecology & Evolution)
    An "extraordinary" secret fossil spot in Wales contains the preserved eyes and brains of 462 million-year-old creatures hidden amidst a hoard of unknown species, a new study finds.

    Last year, weird "bramble snout" fossils were documented at the site called "Castle Bank," but new research published May 1 in the journal Nature Ecology and Evolution(opens in new tab) describes the whole fossil deposit.

    Hosting a myriad of soft-bodied marine creatures and their organs, which are scarcely preserved in the fossil record, the site resembles the world-renowned Cambrian deposits of Burgess Shale in Canada and Qingjiang biota in China. The rocks of Castle Bank, however, are 50 million years younger and give researchers a unique window into how soft-bodied life diversified in the Ordovician Period (485.4 million to 443.8 million years ago), according to a statement released by Amgueddfa Cymru – Museum Wales.

    Researchers believe they've recovered more than 170 species from the site, most of which are new to science. These include what appear to be late examples of Cambrian groups, including the weirdest wonders of evolution, the nozzle-nosed opabiniids, and early examples of animals that evolved later, including barnacles, shrimp and an unidentified six-legged insect-like creature. The rocks are also home to the fossilized digestive systems of trilobites and the eyes and brain of an unidentified arthropod, as well as preserved worms and sponges.

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  • #2
    As you said, a bunch of previously unknown species including "opabiniids, proto-arthropods with long noses, wiwaxiids, which are thought to be an early relative of mollusks that are armored with scales, a creature thought to be an early ancestor of goose barnacles and cephalocarid shrimps. Of the species discovered, most are considered very small, measuring 1-3mm."

    I posted the abstract from the paper, A Middle Ordovician Burgess Shale-type fauna from Castle Bank, Wales (UK) below


    Burgess Shale-type faunas are critical to our understanding of animal evolution during the Cambrian, giving an unrivalled view of the morphology of ancient organisms and the ecology of the earliest animal-dominated communities. Rare examples in Lower Ordovician strata such as the Fezouata Biota illustrate the subsequent evolution of ecosystems but only from before the main phase of the Great Ordovician Biodiversification Event. Later Ordovician Konservat-Lagerstätten are not directly comparable with the Burgess Shale-type faunas as they do not represent diverse, open-shelf communities, limiting our ability to track ecological development through the critical Ordovician biodiversification interval. Here we present the Castle Bank fauna: a highly diverse Middle Ordovician Burgess Shale-type fauna from Wales (UK) that is directly comparable with the Burgess Shale and Chengjiang biotas in palaeoenvironment and preservational style. The deposit includes animals with morphologies similar to the iconic Cambrian taxa Opabinia, Yohoia and Wiwaxia, combined with early examples of more derived groups such as barnacles. Many taxa such as kinorhynchs show the small sizes typical of modern faunas, illustrating post-Cambrian miniaturization. Castle Bank provides a new perspective on early animal evolution, revealing the next chapter in ecosystem development following the Chengjiang, Burgess Shale and Fezouata biotas.

    Fossils in Wales reveal a glimpse into marine life 462 million years ago. In this illustration
    based on the new finds, the tall sponge in the foreground is less than one inch in height -- From Smithsonian magazine

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