Thursday, November 25, 2010

Creature Feature: Hallucigenia.

Happy Thanksgiving! What better way to celebrate Turkey Day than to -


It's called Hallucigenia. Yes, even science agrees that this creature looks like something out of a bad drug trip. They were first discovered in the Burgess-Shale formation in Canada, which dates back to the Cambrian. There are several species of Hallucigenia, all of which look like something out of the dreams of an escaped mental patient.

Even the actual critter is stoned. 

Luckily for those of us with sanity remaining, they're all dead. These creatures lived alongside many other weirdass lifeforms such as Anomalocaris - a huge (3 foot long, approx. 1 meter), shrimplike creature that was the biggest carnivore at the time. The Hallucigenia were also tiny little things - the biggest was 3 centimeters from 'head' to 'tail.'

Even 'realistic' drawings look like bad trips.

If you just scratched your head at those quotes, you are in good company. Science does not know what to do with this thing. The 'head' has no sensory organs or anything else that would make people definitely call it a head; there also seem to be no locomotive appendages whatsoever. One scientist said, and this is paraphrasing, "OK, let's call this blob the head and assume that this creature walked on these tentacles along the bottom." One can only picture all the other guys in the room smiling and nodding. Other possibilities have been explored, but there is no escaping the sheer trip of this creature.

Nobody knows if Hallucigenia has any living relatives. Velvet worms have been tossed around and disproven. Although there are numerous other "worms with legs," none truly resemble Hallucigenia.  If you want a solid answer, the remaining relatives of this creature probably live in the darkest, wettest corners of your nightmares.

(Ugh. Tomorrow's Black Friday. Lovely.)

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