Prehistoric lobster was the size of a man
By T.K. Randall
March 13, 2015 · 19 comments
An artist's impression of an anomalocaridid. Image Credit: CC BY-SA 3.0 Apokryltaros
Palaeontologists have uncovered the fossil remains of an enormous 480 million-year-old lobster.
Discovered in Morocco, the prehistoric sea-dweller belonged to a group of animals known as anomalocaridids.
Measuring two meters in length, this ancient ancestor of today's crustaceans, insects and spiders would have filtered seawater for tiny particles of food using special spine-covered "limbs".
The largest creatures alive at the time, these gentle giants would have taken the place of today's whales in the prehistoric seas.
"These animals are filling an ecological role that hadn't previously been filled by any other animal," said study co-leader Dr Allison Daley. "While filter-feeding is probably one of the oldest ways for animals to find food, previous filter-feeders were smaller, and usually attached to the sea-floor."
"We have found the oldest example of gigantism in a freely swimming filter-feeder."
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