The fossils of the Burgess Shale of the Canadian Rocky Mountains, first discovered in 1909 by Charles Doolittle Walcott, had been rudely transported and dumped by an underwater sediment slide some 515 million years ago. But they are so different from modern life-forms that they have been interpreted as examples of evolution in action, adapting in extraordinary ways to environmental niches. Many were not “successful” in evolutionary terms, like Opabinia with its flexible forward-projecting proboscis and five eyes. This is a belated tribute to her:

O lovely Opabinia:
Proboscis curvilinia,
Petite in size, and all those eyes
I wish I could’ve sinia. . .

[Picture from http://www.as.wvu.edu/~kgarbutt/EvolutionPage/Studentsites/Burgesspages/images/opabinia.gif]
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