Life in Cambrian seas, between 488 and 542 million years ago, was diverse and often very different from more recent organisms. The rocks of the Burgess Shales in the Canadian Rockies have preserved incredible organisms, including the free-swimming Anomalocaris (see image below)
Research on this fauna has been active for many years, with public interest stimulated by the writing of Stephen Jay Gould in his 1989 book Wonderful Life.
Dr Greg Edgecombe from the Museum's Palaeontology Department will host Dr Allison Daley, who has been awarded a prestigious postdoctoral fellowship from the Swedish Research Council. Allison will join the museum for two years (2011-2012) to work with Greg on the evolution and ontogeny (development) of anomalocaridids.
Previously unstudied material of Anomalocaris and related taxa from the Burgess Shale housed at the Royal Ontario Museum will be a particular focus of this study, including a geometric description of shape changes in the more robust body parts through the course of development. New collections from the Cambrian of Australia will also be documented, and all material used to refine the evolutionary classification of anomalocaridids within the arthropod stem-group.