Sidneyia inexpectans Walcott, 1911 from the Cambrian Series 3 Burgess Shale of British Columbia is largely accepted as a representative of the artiopodans, an assemblage of Paleozoic arthropod taxa, including trilobites and their immediate relatives. Its appendage morphology was never fully understood, but the exopod seemed to differ from that of other artiopodans, except for the shared presence of lamellae. The head was considered to comprise only the ocular and antennular segments, these being covered entirely on the ventral side by a large doublure. This short head was often taken as an evidence for variability of head segment counts in Cambrian arthropods, and to falsify the hypothesis of a head with three postantennular segments in the euarthropod ground pattern. Restudy of a substantial amount of material of S. inexpectans shows that previous interpretations of a short head were based on taphonomically deformed specimens, where the head was either partly folded, or entirely flipped under the thorax, resulting in the dorsal shield being mistaken for an extensive doublure. Rather than an extensive doublure, there is a broad hypostome, and the head comprises ocular, antennular, and at least two postantennular appendage bearing segments. The appendage morphology is shown to be consistent with artiopodan affinities. The exopod is of the bilobate flap-like type with lamellae inserting on the proximal portion, earlier proposed as a potential autapomorphy of Artiopoda. Reinforcement of artiopodan affinities for S. inexpectans and reinterpretation of its head reconciles this species with current understanding of arthropod phylogeny and head segmentation.
Zoologischer Anzeiger, 2013, Vol 253, Issue 2, p. 164-178
Appendage morphology; Burgess Shale; Cambrian; Euarthropoda; Head segmentation