Eldonia ludwigi

ELDONIA LUDWIGI

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   An enigmatic creature from the Cambrian-era Burgess Shale. When originally discovered, Eldonia was interpreted as a sea cucumber with an odd, circular mantle around its body. Later, it was thought to be some sort of jellyfish or maybe a lophophore. Now it's believed to be a primitive deuterostome-- the group of animals that includes echinoderms (such as starfish, sea urchins and sea cucumbers) chordates (vertebrates like us plus tunicates and lancelets) and hemichordates (acorn worms and pterobranchs).

    In the past Eldonia was thought to be a pelagic swimmer, due to its jellyfish-like shape. More recent reconstructions portray it as a benthic animal like a bowl with a plume of tentacles sticking out of the top.
   Here I've split the difference and reconstructed Eldonia as a kind of prehistoric Enypniastes, spending most of its time on the ground grubbing around in the mud, but with the ability to make short, jerky swims if it needs to. It swims by scrunching up its C-shaped body, which contracts the flexible gelatinous mantle.
Also featured here is a small school of swimming crustaceans called Odaraia and a couple of Hallucigenia lobopods poking around for food that the Eldonia are stiring up.

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Eldonia ludwigi ©2012 John Meszaros.  All Rights Reserved