Anomalocaridis: o terror dos mares cambrianos junto com outros fósseis bem estranhos!!!

quinta-feira, maio 26, 2011

Fossil of Giant Ancient Sea Predator Discovered

ScienceDaily (May 25, 2011) — Paleontologists have discovered that a group of remarkable ancient sea creatures existed for much longer and grew to much larger sizes than previously thought, thanks to extraordinarily well-preserved fossils discovered in Morocco.

Anomalocaridids had long, spiny head limbs presumably used to snag prey, and a series of blade-like filaments in segments across the animal’s back, which scientists think might have functioned as gills. (Credit: Esben Horn)

The creatures, known as anomalocaridids, were already thought to be the largest animals of the Cambrian period, known for the "Cambrian Explosion" that saw the sudden appearance of all the major animal groups and the establishment of complex ecosystems about 540 to 500 million years ago. Fossils from this period suggested these marine predators grew to be about two feet long. Until now, scientists also thought these strange invertebrates -- which had long spiny head limbs presumably used to snag worms and other prey, and a circlet of plates around the mouth -- died out at the end of the Cambrian.

Now a team led by former Yale researcher Peter Van Roy (now at Ghent University in Belgium) and Derek Briggs, director of the Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History, has discovered a giant fossilized anomalocaridid that measures one meter (more than three feet) in length. The anomalocaridid fossils reveal a series of blade like filaments in each segment across the animal's back, which scientists think might have functioned as gills.

In addition, the creature dates back to the Ordovician period, a time of intense biodiversification that followed the Cambrian, meaning these animals existed for 30 million years longer than previously realized.


The specimens are just part of a new trove of fossils from Morocco that includes thousands of examples of soft-bodied marine fauna dating back to the early Ordovician period, 488 to 472 million years ago. Because hard shells fossilize and are preserved more readily than soft tissue, scientists had an incomplete and biased view of the marine life that existed during the Ordovician period before the recent discoveries in Morocco. The animals found in Morocco inhabited a muddy sea floor in fairly deep water, and were trapped by sediment clouds that buried them and preserved their soft bodies.


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A giant Ordovician anomalocaridid

Peter Van Roy & Derek E. G. Briggs



Corresponding author

Nature 473, 510–513 (26 May 2011) doi:10.1038/nature09920Received 19 January 2011 Accepted 09 February 2011 Published online 25 May 2011
Anomalocaridids, giant lightly sclerotized invertebrate predators, occur in a number of exceptionally preserved early and middle Cambrian (542–501 million years ago) biotas and have come to symbolize the unfamiliar morphologies displayed by stem organisms in faunas of the Burgess Shale type. They are characterized by a pair of anterior, segmented appendages, a circlet of plates around the mouth, and an elongate segmented trunk lacking true tergites with a pair of flexible lateral lobes per segment1, 2. Disarticulated body parts, such as the anterior appendages and oral circlet, had been assigned to a range of taxonomic groups—but the discovery of complete specimens from the middle Cambrian Burgess Shale showed that these disparate elements all belong to a single kind of animal3. Phylogenetic analyses support a position of anomalocaridids in the arthropod stem, as a sister group to the euarthropods4, 5, 6. The anomalocaridids were the largest animals in Cambrian communities. The youngest unequivocal examples occur in the middle Cambrian Marjum Formation of Utah7 but an arthropod retaining some anomalocaridid characteristics is present in the Devonian of Germany5. Here we report the post-Cambrian occurrence of anomalocaridids, from the Early Ordovician (488–472 million years ago) Fezouata Biota8 in southeastern Morocco, including specimens larger than any in Cambrian biotas. These giant animals were an important element of some marine communities for about 30 million years longer than previously realized. The Moroccan specimens confirm the presence of a dorsal array of flexible blades attached to a transverse rachis on the trunk segments; these blades probably functioned as gills.

Subject terms: Palaeontology


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