What better way to celebrate the 100 year anniversary of the Burgess Shale's discovery than by finding one the coolest surviving relatives of the Cambrian explosion? I found the onychophoran pictured to the right while searching under rocks for dwarf geckos in the Sierra de Bahoruco in the Dominican Republic. The Burgess Shale's onychophoran representative (a.k.a. Hallucigenia) may not be as bizarre as Conway Morris or Gould once thought, but this group has no shortage of weird and wonderful habits. One of these can be seen in the form of the sticky strands projecting from this animal's mouth, which are used to subdue prey and repel predators (or the prodding finger of a photographer's assitant). Onycophorans are also known from Dominican amber (1, 2).
Dechronization is authored by evolutionary biologists interested in the development and application of methods for estimating phylogeny and making phylogeny-based inferences. The goal of the blog is to provide a forum for discussion of the latest research and methods, while also providing anecdotes, tidbits of natural history, and other related information.