Abstract

Experimental preservation of velvet worms (phylum Onychophora), a very rare but evolutionarily important group that has existed for more than 500 million years, showed that the absence of bucal parts, adhesive- expelling organs, gonopore, eyes, legs, claws, annulation and papillation in fossils may not represent absence in the living animals. In fossils, leg thickness and claw orientation can be unreliable. The experiments indicate that not only absence, but even presence of certain structures can simply be the result of tissue decomposition. Computer-aided photorealistic reconstructions of fossil onychophorans are presented. We recommend future researchers to conduct taphonomy experiments specially before analysing unusual fossils.
Keywords: taphonomy, cambrian, onychophora, evolution, model, fossil, photorealistic reconstruction