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Science

Fossils of Cambrian Predator Preserved With Brain Impressions 45

Posted by samzenpus
from the old-way-of-thinking dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Researchers on Wednesday described fossilized remains unearthed in China showing in fine detail the brain structures of a bizarre group of sea creatures that were the top predators more than half a billion years ago. The 520-million-year-old creature, one of the first predators of its day, sported compound eyes, body armor and two spiky claws for grabbing prey. "The animals of the Cambrian are noted for being a collection of oddballs that are sometimes difficult to match up with anything currently living on Earth. But even among these oddities, Anomalocarids stand out (as their name implies). The creatures propelled themselves with a series of oar-like paddles arranged on their flanks, spotted prey with enormous compound eyes, and shoveled them into a disk-like mouth with large arms that resided at the very front of their bodies—although some of them ended up as filter feeders."
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Fossils of Cambrian Predator Preserved With Brain Impressions

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  • by Anonymous Coward

    Perhaps a few thousand years at most.

    Artie Long
    Kansas Board of Education

  • by Thanshin (1188877) on Thursday July 17, 2014 @05:43AM (#47473355)

    One day we'll know enough to build a machine that from star dust starting conditions can predict critters swimming in the sea. That's the point where we'll be able to rightfully call ourselves gods.

  • That honestly doesn't sound much different from shrimp, or their relatives.. especially the mantis shrimp. Compound eyes, paddles, and strong front arms.

    Hyperbole much?

    • by Sockatume (732728)

      They seem to be "further up the tree" than arthropods, i.e. they predate the existence of distinct shrimp altogether.

    • Re:Hard to place? (Score:4, Informative)

      by Sique (173459) on Thursday July 17, 2014 @06:04AM (#47473403) Homepage
      Yes. Because they are, as far as we know, not related to shrimps, though they look superficially similar. According to the article, they might be far relatives to today's velvet worms. That means that even the Tardigrades (microscopically small livings in puddles and wet soil) are closer related to shrimps than the Anomalicarididae.
      • They are arthropods though, so they are connected..

        • Re:Hard to place? (Score:5, Informative)

          by Sique (173459) on Thursday July 17, 2014 @06:15AM (#47473423) Homepage
          Actually, they are considered pan-arthropoda, a greater group, that includes the arthropoda, but also the tardigrades and the onychophora, and if they are indeed related to the velvet worms, they would be classified as onychophora and not arthropoda. And yes, they are connected, in the same sense that all protostomia are connected.
          • procedurally generated words.the giveaway is "velvet worms", which is a fail of the [adjective] [noun] algorithm.
            • by gstoddart (321705)

              procedurally generated words.the giveaway is "velvet worms", which is a fail of the [adjective] [noun] algorithm.

              Ummm ... in the same way that "chocolate cake" does? "Wood table"? "Steel Sword"? "Silicon Wafer"?

              Seriously, what are you on about?

            • by Sique (173459)
              Of course I am just an algorithm, and the velvet worms [wikipedia.org] never appeared in the actual article.
    • That honestly doesn't sound much different from shrimp, or their relatives.. especially the mantis shrimp. Compound eyes, paddles, and strong front arms.

      Hyperbole much?

      Yay it's the annual lets piss on others achievements day, just like every other day!

      RTFA.

      Those things shovel food into a ring shaped mouth with spiked tentacles.

      They look more like something from an alien invasion story than shrimp.

  • Ia! Ia! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by pr0nbot (313417) on Thursday July 17, 2014 @05:50AM (#47473371)

    I think I read about these guys in an H. P. Lovecraft novel.

    • Most creatures from the Cambrian look like they sprang from the mind of Lovecraft. My favorite part of any natural history museum is looking at the really early fossils, because you can really tell evolution was still getting its shit together back then. Everything looks so primitive. You can compare the differences between newer and older fossils to looking at a ball and a ball made from lego. They're clearly the same structure, but one has been smoothed out and the other hasn't.

      • . You can compare the differences between newer and older fossils to looking at a ball and a ball made from lego.

        clearly you don't know much about legos. On a large enough scale, lego structures are indistinguishable from the real-life counterparts they are replicating, and as good as CGI for making imaginary worlds.

        • That is the thing with our sensory apparatus and distance. "On a large enough scale" most things are indistinguishable from each other. It doesn't really have anything to do with lego.

  • Oddballs... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Savage-Rabbit (308260) on Thursday July 17, 2014 @05:58AM (#47473391)

    "The animals of the Cambrian are noted for being a collection of oddballs that are sometimes difficult to match up with anything currently living on Earth."

    You can say that again, Anomalocaris [wikipedia.org] is a good example. The feeding appendages of this creature were initially identified as a type of lobster, it's body was identified as a species of sponge while the mouth was identified as a jellyfish. It was only later that people finally realized these finds were the components parts of a single critter. It makes one wonder what kind of weird creatures exist on other planets and if we'd even recognize them as life if we saw them.

    • Re:Oddballs... (Score:4, Informative)

      by Kuberz (3568651) on Thursday July 17, 2014 @07:35AM (#47473585)

      When it comes to weird shit that exists... Tardigrades take the cake.

      They can live 10 years without any type of sustenance, can withstand more pressure than exists in the deepest oceans, can be boiled, frozen, blasted with radiation, even thrown in space, and still survive.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/T... [wikipedia.org]

    • by drinkypoo (153816)

      It makes one wonder what kind of weird creatures exist on other planets and if we'd even recognize them as life if we saw them.

      Your comment was quite interesting until we reached your conclusion. All of those bits you're talking about were recognized as components of life.

    • by mrbester (200927)

      The reason it is difficult to match up is normally because that entire phylum got wiped out in any of the mass extinctions so there isn't anything to match up to; nothing evolved further because they were all dead. That there are similarities to extant creatures is coincidence.

      We know that hundreds of phyla were wiped out. We don't know for sure how many as we only have fossil records to go on. There could have been thousands.

    • This is another good one:

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/O... [wikipedia.org]

    • When it comes up and tries to bite you, yeah, it's life.

  • If you're one of the first predators, why would you need body armour? (and no, I didn't RTFA)

  • ...poorly preserved traces of cambrian little animals were found in the predator's stomach!
  • This funny-looking shellfish was one of Earth's apex predators at the time. How quaint.

  • I always loved these crazy looking things. Imagining a 7 ft long shrimp/scorpion/alien creature as a kid was fun.

    So from the article, classification was always tricky but now velvetworms may be a distance relative. I'm still holding out hope we'll find one left deep.

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