Nectocaris -- to the tune of "Six Wise Men of Hindustan"


There were six fossil scientists
To early life inclined
Who saw a Nectocaris
They recently did find
That each by speculation
Might guess the creature’s kind

The first approached this fossil form
And happening to see
Some little ray-like fin parts
Cried out in sudden glee
“This wondrous Nectocaris
Looks like ‘early fish’ to me!”

The second, peering in the front
Cried, “Well, what I confirm
This forward section, round and blunt
With segments that can squirm—
This marvelous Nectocaris
Is very like a worm!”

The third took the Precambrian rock
And happening to find
Some hint of thicker structure
Down the body thus aligned
“I see,” quoth he, “This Necto’
Is early-chordate spined!”

The fourth looked at the thorax
Which seemed anything but limp
“What this primeval creature was
Is obvious to a chimp!
‘Tis clear that Nectocaris
Is very like a shrimp!”

The fifth was writer Steven Gould
Who wrote in Wondrous Life
And gathered all the evidence
From all the prior strife
And sorted it and sliced it
With his metaphoric knife

But now we see what had been
One example—mostly hid
Is joined by ninety others
With new thoughts put up for bid
“We say,” the new consensus goes,
“It’s very like a squid!”

So all these paleontologists
Still argue and they wail
Each strong in his opinion
On this beast from Burgess Shale
‘Till one said “If he’s squid-like,
Why’s his anus in his tail?”

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