Fossil range: Lower Devonian[1]
The only known specimen of Schinderhannes. Credit: Steinmann Institute/University of Bonn
Scientific classification



(Unranked) :

Bilateria or Protostomia



(Unranked) :













  • S. bartelsi (type)

Schinderhannes is an extinct genus of anomalocarid known from one specimen from the Lower Devonian Hunsrück Slates, a German Konservat Lagerstatte. Its discovery was shocking because previously, anomalocaridids had only been known from exceptionally preserved fossil beds (lagerstatten) from the Cambrian, 100 million years previous.[1]

Anomalocaridids are organisms such as Anomalocaris, thought to be distantly related to the arthropods, which look quite unlike any organism living today - they had a segmented exoskeleton with lateral lobes used for swimming, large compound eyes, and most strikingly a pair of large, claw-like 'great appendages' resembling the tails of shrimp, which are thought to have passed food to a pineapple-ring like mouth.[2]


The single specimen was discovered in the Eschenbach-Bocksberg Quarry in Bundenbach, and is named after the outlaw Schinderhannes who frequented the area. Its specific epithet bartelsi honours Christoph Bartels, a Hunsrück Slate expert. The specimen is now housed in the Natur-historisches Museum, Mainz.[1]


Schinderhannes is about 10 cm long; like other anomalocaridids, it bears a pair of great appendages (very similar to those of Hurdia)[3], a radial Peytoia 'pineapple-ring' mouth, and large, stalked, compound eyes. It has 12 body segments; large flap-like structures used for swimming protrude from the 11th segment, and from just behind the head.[1]


Its gut is preserved in a fashion typically found in predators,[4] and this lifestyle is supported by the raptorial nature of the spiny great appendages, and the size of the eyes.[1] The organism clearly swam, propelling itself with the 'flippers' attached to its head, and using its wing-like lobes on the 11th segment to steer.[1] These lobes presumably derived from the lateral lobes of Cambrian anomalocaridids, ancestors that used lobes along their sides to swim, and lacked the specialisations of Schinderhannes.[1]


The organism allows the classification of early arthropods to be resolved, to some degree. The organism is classified basally to the true arthropods, but is closer to that group than Anomalocaris. By analogy, Schinderhannes could be thought of as an 'aunt' to the arthropods, and Anomalocaris a 'great-aunt'. This suggests that the anomalocaridid group is in fact paraphyletic — that is, that the arthropods are descended from anomalocaridids.[1] It also seems to suggest that the biramous limb of arthropods arose through fusion of anomalocaridid lateral lobes and gills.[3] The fossil has other implications — it shows that the group of early arthropods with short 'great appendages' are not a natural grouping.

The organism's discovery was most significant because of the huge range extension of the anomalocaridids it caused: the group was only previously known from lagerstatte of the lower-to-middle Cambrian, 100 million years before. This underlined the utility of lagerstatte like the Hunsrück slate: these exceptionally preserved fossil horizons may be the only available opportunity to observe non-mineralised forms.[5]

External linksEdit


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h Kühl, Gabriele; Briggs, Derek E. G.; Rust, Jes (2009). "A Great-Appendage Arthropod with a Radial Mouth from the Lower Devonian Hunsrück Slate, Germany". Science 323: 771–3. doi:10.1126/science.1166586.
  2. ^ Gould, S.J. (1989). Wonderful Life: The Burgess Shale and the Nature of History. W.W. Norton & Company. 
  3. ^ a b Daley, A. C.; Graham E. Budd,1 Jean-Bernard Caron,2 Gregory D. Edgecombe,3 Desmond Collins (2009). "The Burgess Shale Anomalocaridid Hurdia and its Significance for Early Euarthropod Evolution". Science 323: 1597–1600. doi:10.1126/science.1169514.
  4. ^ Butterfield, Nicholas J. (2002). "Leanchoilia guts and the interpretation of three-dimensional structures in Burgess Shale-type fossils". Paleobiology 28: 155. doi:10.1666/0094-8373(2002)028<0155:LGATIO>2.0.CO;2. ISSN 0094-8373.
  5. ^ Butterfield, Nicholas J. (1995). "Secular distribution of Burgess-Shale-type preservation". Lethaia 28: 1. doi:10.1111/j.1502-3931.1995.tb01587.x.

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