This thing? Cuuuuute!
|Quick, someone scribble a heart in Paint above its head!|
No doubt some of you are probably screaming and/or going "AAAAAHH, WHAT THE HELL IS THAT?" The authoress thinks it's one of the cutest things ever.
In all seriousness, the shrimplike creature above has been extinct for a loooong time. Its name is Anomalocaris, and it was all over the world's Cambrian oceans. At three feet long from head to tail fin, it was the largest predator to evolve at that point.
|This puts king crab legs to shame...and it's not a leg.|
We did not know exactly what Anomalocaris was for the longest time. It started when we found those two long feelers and thought that they were prehistoric jumbo shrimp. Then they found an independent ring-mouth and called that an ancient, toothy jellyfish. The body was also discovered near the mouth, but deemed a sea sponge. It was not until 1985 that someone put all the pieces together into the weird-cute shrimpy creature we know today.
Anomalocaris ate the ever-popular trilobites. Exactly how they ate trilobites is unclear. One would guess that simple biting would do it (and dents on some trilobite shells agree), but certain scientists say that the mouthparts of Anomalocaris could not break the trilobites' shells. The appendages in front of the mouth are thought to have helped crack open the little buggers instead. The actual mouth of Anomalocaris looks more suited to eating soft-bodied creatures like jellyfish.
The lobe-fins on Anomalocaris allowed it to move swiftly through the water. They may look awkward, but they are actually quite hydrodynamic, moving the whole creature along like a very shrimpy stingray or flatfish.
What? Stingrays can be cute...