Annelids and Paleontology

Annelid fossils include tracks and burrows, jaws, and whole bodies. They were already diverse in the Cambrian fossils of the Burgess Shale. One of them called Canadia is much like a modern polychaete worm with a fairly complex brain. Modern annelids with simple brains evolved from ancestors with more complex brains.  

Ancestral annelids had a reasonably complex nervous system that has been reduced numerous times independently during transitions in lifestyle and/or extensive modifications of the annelid body plan.

Annelids were even burrowing in the sediment during the Cambrian. 

General Info

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    Book with pencil

Role in Ecosystem

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    Bee with arrows around it


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    Thermometer and waves

Human Interaction

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    Human next to globe


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    Skull of dinosaur
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    Alitta Succinea
    Lesson Plan
    Annelid Adaptions + Art
    This lesson begins with students engaging in the practice of science -- observing the phenomena, describing their observations, and making sense of what they see. They observe annelid behaviors using a Shape of Life video with the audio turned off. They try to figure out what the phenomenon (the behavior) is, how it might help the organism survive, and how it might impact the environment. Working with a partner, they make hypotheses about what they are observing and organisms' adaptions that allow it to perform the behavior.

    Full Lesson Plan