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Fossils of Cambrian Predator Preserved With Brain Impressions

samzenpus posted about 5 months ago | from the old-way-of-thinking dept.

Science 45

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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Already wrong (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47473341)

Perhaps a few thousand years at most.

Artie Long
Kansas Board of Education

ISIS (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47473345)

Where's ISIS to destroy the evidence obviously made by non-Islamic infidels?

Re:ISIS (3, Funny)

Whiteox (919863) | about 5 months ago | (#47473557)

Why would Archer bother?

The far future of procedurally generated worlds (2)

Thanshin (1188877) | about 5 months ago | (#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.

Re:The far future of procedurally generated worlds (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47474159)

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.

Give up the Spore hype already, man!

Re:The far future of procedurally generated worlds (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47475623)

Oh shit, Thanshin_0352307520543298713242 knows. Delete him!

Hard to place? (1)

3.5 stripes (578410) | about 5 months ago | (#47473361)

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?

Re:Hard to place? (1)

Sockatume (732728) | about 5 months ago | (#47473395)

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

Re:Hard to place? (1)

3.5 stripes (578410) | about 5 months ago | (#47473405)

Well yeah, they predate(pre-date?) most forms of multicellular life.

Re:Hard to place? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47473465)

Well yeah, they predate(pre-date?) most forms of multicellular life.

They pre-dated most forms of life, and as I understand it, they predated upon most forms of life, too :)

(OK, technically the dictionaries only recognise "predate" in the meaning "pre-date", but back-formation from a noun is an accepted way of generating a neologism...)

Re:Hard to place? (3, Informative)

Sique (173459) | about 5 months ago | (#47473403)

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.

Re:Hard to place? (1)

3.5 stripes (578410) | about 5 months ago | (#47473413)

They are arthropods though, so they are connected..

Re:Hard to place? (4, Informative)

Sique (173459) | about 5 months ago | (#47473423)

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.

Re:Hard to place? (1)

Noah Haders (3621429) | about 5 months ago | (#47475061)

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

Re:Hard to place? (1)

gstoddart (321705) | about 5 months ago | (#47475405)

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?

Re:Hard to place? (1)

Sique (173459) | about 5 months ago | (#47475835)

Of course I am just an algorithm, and the velvet worms [wikipedia.org] never appeared in the actual article.

Re:Hard to place? (1)

khallow (566160) | about 5 months ago | (#47477151)

I knew it! Now run that again with the flag --sexy.

Re:Hard to place? (1)

Sique (173459) | about 5 months ago | (#47477491)

Sique: error. --sexy not implemented

Re:Hard to place? (1)

serviscope_minor (664417) | about 5 months ago | (#47473947)

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! (2, Insightful)

pr0nbot (313417) | about 5 months ago | (#47473371)

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

Re:Ia! Ia! (2)

kruach aum (1934852) | about 5 months ago | (#47473431)

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.

Re:Ia! Ia! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47473555)

Evolution doesn't 'get it's shit together'. It is an ongoing process and there is no shit to get together.

Re:Ia! Ia! (1)

Antique Geekmeister (740220) | about 5 months ago | (#47473683)

There are levels of sophistication. Surprisingly, "The Science of Discworld" has an excellent narrative explanation of how evolution creates new types of organism. It's partly by expanding opportunities for current organism by creating sophisticated ecosystems which stabilize the environment, and make energy and resources available that new types of organism attempt to use est and, occasionally, prosper.

It's also entertaining science, with a fine appreciation of how catastrophe has shaped biological history.

Re:Ia! Ia! (1)

Noah Haders (3621429) | about 5 months ago | (#47475075)

. 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.

Re:Ia! Ia! (1)

kruach aum (1934852) | about 5 months ago | (#47475137)

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.

Re:Ia! Ia! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47473703)

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

A description fitting to describe the modern man.

Oddballs... (5, Interesting)

Savage-Rabbit (308260) | about 5 months ago | (#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... (4, Informative)

Kuberz (3568651) | about 5 months ago | (#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]

Re:Oddballs... (1)

Curunir_wolf (588405) | about 5 months ago | (#47473853)

That's 'tarded.

Re:Oddballs... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47477963)

Makes me wonder if they came from space?

Or if we could use them to seed other worlds with life?

Re:Oddballs... (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | about 5 months ago | (#47473599)

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.

Re:Oddballs... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47474901)

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.

And how many fossils have we unknowingly observed that haven't been identified as "components of life"?

Your comment is not interesting at all because it implicitly assumes all "components of life" will be recognized as such.

GP post is interesting because it makes no such assumption but infers from the misidentification of the first Anomolacaris fossils that it's possible to see a fossil and not even know that's what it is.

Re:Oddballs... (2)

mrbester (200927) | about 5 months ago | (#47473623)

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.

Re:Oddballs... (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | about 5 months ago | (#47474437)

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

Looks like a rock drawing to me... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47473449)

Is it only me, or does the color only exist on the high points of the stone? It looks like what you would get if you used chalk or a crayon on rock.

Re:Looks like a rock drawing to me... (3, Informative)

AlecC (512609) | about 5 months ago | (#47473483)

I think the colour has been put on by the discoverers to highlight the high points and make the fossil easier to interpret. In the real world, the whole fossil is just rock coloured, as seem at the edges of the picture. I.e. you are tautologically right: the colour is mapping height.

Body armour? (1)

coofercat (719737) | about 5 months ago | (#47473629)

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

Re:Body armour? (4, Informative)

Antique Geekmeister (740220) | about 5 months ago | (#47473689)

In order to protect turf and progeny from your own species. One's own species is often the fiercest competition in the local ecology.

Re:Body armour? (1)

rmdingler (1955220) | about 5 months ago | (#47473731)

You're never alone at the top of the food chain.

You are in competition for breeding with others of your species.

The creature in second place may not wish to remain there.

Re:Body armour? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47474337)

Probably for the same reason that humans evolved a strong jaw and face bones about the same time that their hands evolved to make fists.

In a related news.... (1)

ctrl-alt-canc (977108) | about 5 months ago | (#47473951)

...poorly preserved traces of cambrian little animals were found in the predator's stomach!

T-Rex of the Cambrian era (1)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | about 5 months ago | (#47474559)

This funny-looking shellfish was one of Earth's apex predators at the time. How quaint.

Love these things (1)

omfglearntoplay (1163771) | about 5 months ago | (#47477697)

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.

Actually we can compare this animal... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47481499)

kind of like a horseshoe crab + king crab + insect like compound eye.
I can picture it...

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