Feeds

Eyes on stalks: ancient predator a real monster

Throw this shrimp on the barbie

High performance access to file storage

A group of scientists working on fossils from Kangaroo Island in South Australia has turned up a Cambrian predator with horror-movie specs: razor serrations in a circular mouth, claws at the front of its head, and compound eyes on stalks.

Taagged Anomalocaris (roughly “irregular shrimp”, or perhaps “abnormal shrimp”), the meter-long beauty seems to be a top predator from 500 million years ago.

What’s got the boffins excited, according to University of New England palaeontologist Dr John Paterson, is that it’s the first time a fossil has shown sufficient surface detail to prove that it had compound eyes.

Artist impression of Anomalocaris

Artist's impression of Anomalocaris - Katrina Kenny, Uni of Adelaide

The Anomalocaris fossil, which showed up in the Emu Bay Shale fossil ground, yielded thousands of small, hardened lenses that made up each of the critter’s 3cm-long eyes, according to Nature.

Paterson says his group’s examination of the fossils turned up an impressive 16,000 lenses per eye – far ahead of modern insects like ants (with 1,000 lenses) or houseflies (with 3,200). According to Eureka Alert, only dragonflies have comparable resolution.

This suggests that not only did Anomalocaris have fearsome hunting equipment, it also had good eyesight for hunting.

Its status as an “apex predator” is also attested by trilobite fossils showing damage from predator attacks, and coprolites that contain the remains of its prey. The presence of this predator would also have fed into the evolution of other Cambrian creatures, in an arms race between predator and prey.

Other members of the team included Dr Michael Lee of the University of Adelaide and Adelaide Museum, and Dr Jim Jago (University of South Australia and Adelaide Museum). ®

High performance access to file storage

More from The Register

next story
Fancy joining Reg hack on quid-a-day challenge?
Recruiting now for charity starvation diet
Red-faced LOHAN team 'fesses up in blown SPEARS fuse fiasco
Standing in the corner, big pointy 'D' hats
KILLER SPONGES menacing California coastline
Surfers are safe, crustaceans less so
Opportunity selfie: Martian winds have given the spunky ol' rover a spring cleaning
Power levels up 70 per cent as the rover keeps on truckin'
Discovery time for 200m WONDER MATERIALS shaved from 4 MILLENNIA... to 4 years
Alloy, Alloy: Boffins in speed-classification breakthrough
Elon Musk's LEAKY THRUSTER gas stalls Space Station supply run
Helium seeps from Falcon 9 first stage, delays new legs for NASA robonaut
Top Secret US payload launched into space successfully
Clandestine NRO spacecraft sets off on its unknown mission
prev story

Whitepapers

Top three mobile application threats
Learn about three of the top mobile application security threats facing businesses today and recommendations on how to mitigate the risk.
Combat fraud and increase customer satisfaction
Based on their experience using HP ArcSight Enterprise Security Manager for IT security operations, Finansbank moved to HP ArcSight ESM for fraud management.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Five 3D headsets to be won!
We were so impressed by the Durovis Dive headset we’ve asked the company to give some away to Reg readers.
SANS - Survey on application security programs
In this whitepaper learn about the state of application security programs and practices of 488 surveyed respondents, and discover how mature and effective these programs are.