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Wheeler Shale

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Title: Wheeler Shale  
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Subject: Burgess Shale, Shale, Trilobite, Delta, Utah, Aysheaia, Ottoia, List of fossil sites, List of Global Boundary Stratotype Sections and Points, Megacheira
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Wheeler Shale

Wheeler Shale
Stratigraphic range: Middle Cambrian (c. 507 Ma)
Elrathia kingii, famed trilobite of the Wheeler Shale.
Type Geological formation
Thickness 100-200 metres
Primary Calcareous Shale
Other Mudstone, Shaley Limestone & Limestone

39°15′N 113°20′W / 39.25°N 113.33°W / 39.25; -113.33

Region House Range & Drum Range, Millard Co., west Utah
Country USA
Type section
Named for House Amphitheater (Geographic feature & type locality)
Named by Charles Doolittle Walcott

The Wheeler Shale (named by Charles Walcott) is a Cambrian (c. 507 Ma) fossil locality world famous[1] for prolific agnostid and Elrathia kingii trilobite remains (even though many areas are barren of fossils)[2] and represents a Konzentrat-Lagerstätten. Varied soft bodied organisms are locally preserved, a fauna (including Naraoia, Wiwaxia and Hallucigenia) and preservation style (carbonaceous film) normally associated with the more famous Burgess Shale.[3] As such, the Wheeler Shale also represents a Konservat-Lagerstätten.[4]

Together with the Marjum Formation and lower Weeks Formation, the Wheeler Shale forms 490 to 610 m (1,600 to 2,000 ft) of limestone and shale exposed in one of the thickest, most fossiliferous and best exposed sequences of Middle Cambrian rocks in North America.[5]

At the type locality of Wheeler Amphitheater, House Range, Millard County, western Utah, the Wheeler Shale consists of a heterogeneous succession of highly calcareous shale, shaley limestone, mudstone and thin, flaggy limestone.[6] The Wheeler Formation (although the Marjum & Weeks Formations are missing) extends into the Drum Range, northwest of the House Range where similar fossils and preservation are found.[6]

Taphonomy & Sedimentology

Further information: Burgess Shale type preservation

Detailed work recognises a number of ~10 m thick lagerstätten sequences in the formation, each of which formed at a sea-level high stand[7] in deep water.[8] The lagerstätte were deposited by turbidities and mudslides onto an oxygenated sea floor.[7] The productive layers comprise mud and clay particles, with a tiny fraction of wind-blown quartz.[9]


The Wheeler Shale spans the Ptychagnostus atavus[10] and uppermost-Middle Cambrian Bolaspidella trilobite zones (See House Range) for full stratigraphy).


Incomplete list of the fauna of the Wheeler Shale:[6][11][12][13][14][15][16] (Note: the preservation of hard bodied trilobite remains and soft bodied animals seems to be mutually exclusive within particular horizons.)[4][17]




  • Alalcomenaeus cambrius - megacheiran; or alalcomenaeid
  • Dicranocaris guntherorum - megacheiran; or alalcomenaeid
  • unnamed 'Molli Sonia symmetrica'
  • Leanchoilia superlata - megacheiran
  • Sidneyia inexpectans - merostomoid


  • Naraoia compacta - naraoiid nectaspid
  • Hypagnostus parvifrons - agnostid
  • Peronopsis amplaxis - peronopsid agnostid
  • Peronopsis bidens
  • Peronopsis fallax
  • Peronopsis gaspensis
  • Peronopsis intermedius
  • Peronopsis interstrictus
  • Peronopsis montis
  • Peronopsis segmentis
  • Ptychagnostus atavus (= Acidusus atavus) - ptychagnostid agnostid
  • Ptychagnostus germanus
  • Ptychagnostus gibbus
  • Ptychagnostus intermedius
  • Ptychagnostus michaeli
  • Ptychagnostus occultatus
  • Ptychagnostus seminula
  • Glyphaspis concavus - asaphid
  • Bathyuriscus fimbriatus - dolichometopid corynexochid
  • Bathyuriscus sp.
  • Kootenia sp. - dorypygid corynexochid, perhaps a synonym of Olenoides
  • Olenoides expansus - dorypygid corynexochid
  • Olenoides nevadensis
  • Olenoides serratus
  • Tonkinella breviceps
  • Zacanthoides divergens - zacanthoidid corynexochid
  • Zacanthoides sp.
  • Altiocculus harrisi - ptychopariid (specific name may be confused with Alokistocare)
  • Alokistocare harrisi - alokistocarid ptychopariid
  • Asaphiscus wheeleri - ptychopariid; second-most common species in the formation
  • Bathyocos housensis - ptychopariid
  • Bolaspidella drumensis
  • Bolaspidella housensis
  • Bolaspidella sp.
  • Bolaspidella wellsvillensis
  • Brachyaspidion microps
  • Brachyaspidion sulcatum
  • Cedaria minor - known from the Warrior Formation
  • Elrathia kingii - alokistocarid ptychopariid
  • Elrathia sp.
  • Elrathina wheeleri = Ptychoparella wheeleri? - ptychopariid
  • Jenkinsonia varga
  • Modocia brevispina
  • Modocia laevinucha
  • Modocia typicalis
  • Ptychoparella sp. - ptychopariid
  • Ptychoparella wheeleri
  • Spencella sp. - ptychopariid


  • Acrothele subsidua





  • Castericystis sprinklei - carpoid
  • Castericystis sp.
  • Cothurnocystis sp. - stylophoran
  • Ctenocystis sp. - ctenocystoid
  • Gogia spiralis - eocrinoid
  • Eocrinoid holdfasts believed to belong to Gogia spiralis; may belong to other species






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