Smaller than a Microraptor!

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Temporal range: Late Ediacaran
An artist's illustration of Dickinsonia costata
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Subkingdom: Eumetazoa
clade: Bilateria
Family: Dickinsoniidae
Genus: Dickinsonia
Sprigg, 1947
Referred species
  • ?Chondroplon Wade, 1971
  • Vendomia Keller 1976
  • Papilionata eyrei Sprigg, 1947 = Dickinsonia costata

Dickinsonia is an enigmatic worm from the Ediacaran biota of Australia. Despite its simplistic shape and primitive nature, scientists have yet to discern what it is and have previously identified it as several different kinds of animals: a jellyfish, coral, polychaete worm, worms with protuberances on its sides (although it lived too early to be classified with them), turbellarian, a subdivision of Platyhelminthes (flatworms), a mushroom, a xenophyophoran protist, a large unicellular protist, sea anemone, lichen, and a relative of chordates. The genus has been found in Australia, Russia, and Ukraine.


Dickinsonia fossils are known only in the form of imprints and casts in sandstone beds. The specimens found range from a few millimeters to about 1.4 meters (4 feet and 7 inches) in length, and from a fraction of a millimeter to a few millimeters thick. The appearance of the genus resembles that of marine flatworms, which it presumably held a similar niche to during that time. Due to the lack of a noticeable mouth on the animal, it is theorized by scientists to have been a filter feeder, consuming microscopic organisms such as plankton and bacteria.


Currently, only three species of the genus are known. They were discovered in Ukraine, Russia and Australia in Ediacarian biota sites, alongside various other contemporary animals.

  • D. costata, discovered and named in 1947
  • D. menneri, discovered and named in 1976
  • D. tenuis, discovered and named in 1966