Hallucigenia, The Illusory Cambrian Critter That Took Scientists 40 Years to Anatomize

by Owen James Burke


It took swarths of scientists and almost four decades before anyone could even make heads or tails of the creature. Maybe–just maybe–it looked something like this. Graphic: Danielle Dufault.

Hallucigenia (Hallucigenia sparsa) fossils were first discovered in 1977 by biologist Simon Conway Morris, who at the time had–and still has, to some degree–no clue what he was looking at. He wasn’t even so sure what he was seeing was real, so he named it Hallucigenia and tabled the nightmarish endeavor of identifying and classifying the 540-million-year-old fossils left behind by the spiky crustacean-like worm.

Watch a visualization of Hallucigenia as scientists think it might possibly have looked in the flesh:

Read more at Quartz. -OJB

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