(Top 7) Anomalocaris canadensis

With the purpose to start the year of most “interesting” form, I decided to make a top about extinct that, in my opinion, were the scariest animals ever science discovered; not only about their appearance, but also in the characteristics that define it and make it unique.

Anomalocaris, the strange Cambrian predator

Picture 1. Screenshot of Animal Crossing New Horizons; the in the center belongs to Anomalocaris, the reader assumes the rest as simple decoration. Screenshot taken by author.

The naked eye, not is clear about that is Anomalocaris: ¿A dinosaur? ¿A alien? ¿A failed experiment? In fact, not is none of the option, Anomalocaris canadensis (also exist another species as Anomalocaris briggis y Anomalocaris pennsylvanica), is a creature of the Cambrian period (525 million years ago until 510 million years ago), in fact was the bigger animal (until to our knowledge). We know his great success because Anomalocaris fossil was discovered from China, Australia and Canada. His gender name (Anomalocaris) meaning “Strange prawn” and his specie (canadensis) refers to the country in which the fossil was discovered. His diet unknown, but could feet of small creatures of thick shell, breaking the shell with his strong arms, very similar to like humans eating lobster or shrimp.

Picture 2. The first fossil of Anomalocaris canadensis, taken from The Burgess Shale page web: https://burgess-shale.rom.on.ca/en/index.php
Picture 3. Peytoia reconstruction (Today has not valid gender), credits to E. Horn. Taken from EurekAlert page web: https://www.eurekalert.org/multimedia/690364
Picture 4. Sidneyia reconstruction, taken from The Burgess Shale page web: https://burgess-shale.rom.on.ca/en/index.php

The Anomalocaris discovery, and the reason for his name, occurred because of a confusion in 1892 for the paleontologist Joseph Frederick Whiteaves. Gave a name to a fossil (of one of Anomalocaris arms) that he thought was about of a prawn without head (Picture 2) from there that the name meaning “Strange Prawn”, however, to the Prawn fossil is missing the head. After most 70 years of Peytoia discovery (Picture 3), Sidneyia (Picture 4) and Laggania (Picture 5), it concluded of that, the 4 creatures along with the prawn called Anomalocaris, were actually part of the same fossil (was Anomalocaris was a first to called, then it was assigned that name), the strange prawn ended up being one of his appendices.

Picture 5. Laggania fossil, taken from The Burgess Shale page web: https://burgess-shale.rom.on.ca/en/index.php

Anomalocaris is a very popular creature despite how strange that is: as can be seen in the picture 1, is one of the fossils that are show in Animal Crossing New Horizons; however, it is not its only representation, in another video games like to “Life on Earth: vida evolución”, created for the company “DoMobile Game”, is the last creature to evolve in the Cambrian level.

Picture 6. Anomalocaris reconstruction, taken from The Burgess Shale page web: https://burgess-shale.rom.on.ca/en/index.php

Are very much the characteristics to highlight: The most important particularity of Anomalocaris are his strange pedunculated eyes, that gave him a wide field of vision, each eye have until 16 000 separate lenses turning it one of better Cambrian vision. Almost as impressive as his vision, his appendices (arms) had 20 centimeters of length with sharp thorns from each of his 12 segments. Don’t have legs; however, was moving through the sea with his “swimming lobes” that make it a stable hydroplane. His strange mouth was constituted of 32 segments with ring form, it is estimated that it could expand and contract, but it could not close.

Gould, S. J. 1989. Wonderful Life. The Burgess Shale and the Nature of History. Norton, New York

Parker, S. (2016). Evolución Toda la Historia (1.a ed.). BLUME.

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