Thursday, December 22, 2011

Anomalocaris Super-predator's Eyes Hunter

Anomalocaris, the ancestor of modern insects, had 16,000 separate lenses in each eye giving it a massive advantage when locating its prey. The remains of a pair of ancient compound eyes that belonged to the world's first tremendous predator have been discovered by fossil hunters in Australia.

Anomalocaris was a soft-bodied marine beast that patrolled the oceans over half a billion years ago. Adults grew to a metre long & had eyes on stalks.

The creature also had grasping claws and teeth-like serrations in its mouth that it used to capture and feed on other marine animals. The fossilised excrement of the predator suggests it may have crunched up trilobites, which were up to 25cm long.

Each eye was around centimetres across and contained over 16,000 separate lenses, to give the creature outstanding vision to support its predatory lifestyle.

The ability to spot prey from far away would have influenced the evolutionary arms race that played out in the Cambrian, when animal life became extraordinarily diverse.

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