Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Earth's first great predator wasn't: Carnivorous 'shrimp' not so fierce, 3-D model shows

Date:
November 8, 2010
Source:
The Geological Society of America
Summary:
The meters-long, carnivorous "shrimp" from hell that once ruled the seas of Earth a half billion years ago may have been a real softy, it turns out. A new 3-D modeling of the mouth parts of the Anomalocaris, along with evidence that these parts were not hard like teeth, but flexible, shows that the famed predator could not have been munching on the hard shells of trilobites and other such creatures of the early seas.

Researchers have developed A new 3-D modeling of the mouth parts of the Anomalocaris, a carnivorous shrimp-like creature that lived a half billion years ago. Left: model of the toothplate. Right: model of the mouth.
Credit: Image courtesy of Dr. James Hagadorn, Denver Museum of Nature & Science

The meters-long, carnivorous "shrimp" from hell that once ruled the seas of Earth a half billion years ago may have been a real softy, it turns out. A new 3-D modeling of the mouth parts of the Anomalocaris, along with evidence that these parts were not hard like teeth, but flexible, shows that the famed predator could not have been munching on the hard shells of trilobites and other such creatures of the early seas.

Related Articles


What's more, there is no evidence from fossilized stomach contents or feces that Anomalocaris' ate anything hard enough to leave a fossilized trace. In fact it was this lack of fossil evidence backing any dietary preference -- right alongside other animals that do show fragments of what they ate in their gullets -- which inspired the investigation, said paleontologist James "Whitey" Hagadorn of the Denver Museum of Nature & Science.

Hagadorn presented his team's discoveries about Anomalocaris on Nov. 1 at the annual meeting of the Geological Society of America in Denver.

"It was supposed to roam around the Cambrian seas gobbling up trilobites and everything else," said Hagadorn. 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. They are not mineralized like the exoskeletons of the trilobites they were supposedly eating.

His suspicions prompted Hagadorn to develop a 3-D, finite element analysis model of the Anomalocaris mouth. This allowed for testing just how the mouth worked and how much force it could create -- in other words, how strong a bite it had. The model turned up some surprises.

"It couldn't even close its mouth," said Hagadorn. And there was no practical way these mouth parts could create the force needed to break open a modern lobster shell nor a shrimp shell, which were used as analogues for a trilobite carapace in the model.

Another interesting discovery made along the way came from studying more than 400 Anomalocaris mouths. In none of them did Hagadorn find any signs of wear. That's strange because if they were genuine teeth there would be chips, scratches and other signs they were being used to munch on hard-shelled animals.

The model, gut contents, feces and wear all suggest Anomalocaris was not a trilobite eater. But they fail to help explain what this impressive beast from the Cambrian was eating.

"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. At this point the only thing that appears certain is that the famed biggest predator of the early Cambrian is more mysterious than ever.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by The Geological Society of America. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

The Geological Society of America. "Earth's first great predator wasn't: Carnivorous 'shrimp' not so fierce, 3-D model shows." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 8 November 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/11/101101083148.htm>.
The Geological Society of America. (2010, November 8). Earth's first great predator wasn't: Carnivorous 'shrimp' not so fierce, 3-D model shows. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 22, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/11/101101083148.htm
The Geological Society of America. "Earth's first great predator wasn't: Carnivorous 'shrimp' not so fierce, 3-D model shows." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/11/101101083148.htm (accessed December 22, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Fossils & Ruins News

Monday, December 22, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Researchers Bring Player Pianos Back to Life

Researchers Bring Player Pianos Back to Life

AP (Dec. 17, 2014) Stanford University wants to unlock the secrets of the player piano. Researchers are restoring and studying self-playing pianos and the music rolls that recorded major composers performing their own work. (Dec. 17) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Domestication Might've Been Bad For Horses

Domestication Might've Been Bad For Horses

Newsy (Dec. 16, 2014) A group of scientists looked at the genetics behind the domestication of the horse and showed how human manipulation changed horses' DNA. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Mozart, Beethoven, Shubert and Bizet Manuscripts to Go on Sale

Mozart, Beethoven, Shubert and Bizet Manuscripts to Go on Sale

AFP (Dec. 16, 2014) A collection of rare manuscripts by composers Mozart, Beethoven, Shubert and Bizet are due to go on sale at auction on December 17. Duration: 00:57 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Old Ship Records to Shed Light on Arctic Ice Loss

Old Ship Records to Shed Light on Arctic Ice Loss

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Dec. 15, 2014) Researchers are looking to the past to gain a clearer picture of what the future holds for ice in the Arctic. A project to analyse and digitize ship logs dating back to the 1850's aims to lengthen the timeline of recorded ice data. Ben Gruber reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins