Pikaia swimming in a Cambrian sea, illustration

Pikaia swimming in a Cambrian sea, illustration

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Credit: JOHN SIBBICK / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption: Pikaia swimming in a Cambrian sea. Illustration of Pikaia gracilens, an eel-like chordate known from fossils in the Burgess Shale site (508 million years old) in British Columbia, Canada, swimming in a Cambrian sea. The Burgess Shale fossil site records a key moment in Earth's history, the Cambrian Explosion, when an unprecedented period of evolution produced a wide diversity of body types, including those of today's animals. It is thought that Pikaia was the first chordate, a possible ancestor to today's vertebrates.

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