Massive, carnivorous “shrimp” ‘may not be Earth’s first predator’

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

WASHINGTON - A study has revealed that the infamous, carnivorous “shrimp” that is considered Earth’s first great predator may, in fact, be not.

A new 3-D modeling of the mouth parts of the Anomalocaris shows that the creature had flexible, not hard, parts and could not have been munching on the hard shells of trilobites and other such creatures of the early seas.

“It was supposed to roam around the Cambrian seas gobbling up trilobites and everything else,” said palaeontologist James “Whitey” Hagadorn of the Denver Museum of Nature and Science.

But the pineapple-like whorl of mouth parts and the associated whisker-like appendages of Anomalocaris all appear to have been bendable, in the fossil remains, he said.

“It couldn’t even close its mouth,” said Hagadorn.

He studied 400 Anomalocaris mouths and in none of them did he find any signs of wear that should have been caused from chips, scratches and other signs that they were being used to munch on hard-shelled animals.

The model, gut contents, faeces, and wear all suggest Anomalocaris was not a trilobite eater.

“Maybe it ingested things and then spit them out,” Hagadorn speculated.

Another possibility is that it somehow broke down the food it was eating into very fine particles before ingesting it.

The only thing that appears certain is that the famed biggest predator of the early Cambrian is more mysterious than ever. (ANI)

Filed under: Science and Technology

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