Wednesday, 12 August 2020


A lovely Pterocephalia trilobite from Upper Cambrian, Furongian strata of the McKay Group, Kootenay Rockies. 

The McKay Group has been explored extensively these past few years by Chris New and Chris Jenkins of Cranbrook, British Columbia. 

Together, these two avid trilobite enthusiasts have opened up considerable knowledge on the exposures, collaborating with researchers such as Brian Chatterton and Rudy Lerosey-Aubril. They have unearthed many new specimens and several new species. 

Pterocephalia from this region are relatively common. It was the keen eyes of Chris Jenkins that spotted the unusual preservation of the gut tract that led to the publication by Chatterton et al. in 1994. Rudy Lerosey-Aubril published a paper in 2017 on phosphatized gut remains — relatively common in this taxon at this site. Lerosey-Aubril’s paper was on an aglaspidid, a combjelly, and the gut of another trilobite. 

Skeletal remains of trilobites are abundant in Palaeozoic rock but soft parts are rarely preserved. There have been a few papers on trilobite gut remains from Canada and on abundant trilobite faunas of the Kaili Formation of Guizhou, China. The Kaili contains one of the earliest middle Cambrian Burgess Shale-type deposits, sharing many faunal elements (see with the older Chengjiang Biota (Chen 2004; Hou et al. 2004) and the younger Burgess Shale Biota (Briggs et al. 1994). The biota, facies description, and regional stratigraphy of the Kaili Biota were discussed and reviewed in Zhao et al. (2002, 2005) and Lin et al. (2005). Chinese colleagues (Zhao et al. 1994b, 1996, 1999, 2001, 2002) have illustrated many Kaili arthropods with soft-part preservation, but most of their systematic descriptions are yet to be completed.

References: Chatterton BD, Johanson Z, Sutherland G. 1994. Journal of Paleontology 68:294-305. 

Lin, Jih-Pai. (2007). Preservation of the gastrointestinal system in Olenoides (Trilobita) from the Kaili Biota (Cambrian) of Guizhou, China. Memoirs of the Association of Australasian Palaeontologists. 33. 179-189. 

Photo: This specimen was collected by Dan Bowden and photographed by the Huntress. It has been checked for the dark telltale signs of phosphatized gut remains, but sadly no luck!