|“||This is Anomalocaris - Earth's first superpredator!||”|
– Kenneth Branagh
Anomalocaris was an arthropod-like sea monster and the largest of its family, Anomalocaridida.
Earth’s first super predators, these mighty, spineless, two-meter-long monsters owed their success to a monumental, evolutionary land mark: Their eyes. These eyes may have looked bizarre, but they were not unique. Many other predators during the Anomalocaris time had also evolved eyes, and so did their prey.
Anomalocaris was one of the most successful animals of the Cambrian period; it had a worldwide distribution and survived over 20 million years. Not only that, but Anomalocaris is also noteworthy for evolving compound eyes independently of trilobites (who made their eyes from calcite). Anomalocaris' eyes, on the caliber of only a few modern insects, were compound with around 30 thousand lenses. He would swim above the ocean floor, find prey, and shred it in three rings of teeth. Anomalocaris is known to have eaten trilobites, as indicated by bite marks in his prey of the right size and shape; trilobite remnants in Anomalocaris droppings also have been found.
Appearances in the programmesEdit
Anomalocaris (more specifically, the Chinese "tailed" Anomalocaris saron) features in the first half of Water Dwellers. In that episode, Anomalocaris is initially depicted finding a trilobite (a first-person view is even shown for a few seconds) and proceeding to grab it with its "great appendages", rocking it back and forth, and then eating it once its meal's armor splits. Two Anomalocaris then get into a fight for reasons unspecified, wounding one and breaking his armor (see below). The wounded Anomalocaris then is discovered and eaten by a school of Haikouichthys. Then the Narrator says that Haikouichthys is our ancestor and Haikouichthys evolves into a jawless fish called Cephalaspis.
- Upon his initial discovery in 1912, Anomalocaris was believed to be multiple animals; his front appendages were believed to be the hinder halves of shrimp ("strange" because their "head" was always missing), his mouth was believed a jellyfish, and his body a sea cucumber or a sponge. This mistake was only realized in the 1980s, providing the modern reconstruction as the meter-long flippered monster.
- Despite its name, Anomalocaris was not closely related to shrimp. The fossil of a similar species, Lyrarapax unguispinus, in which the shape of the creature's brain was preserved, actually suggests a close relation to velvet worms.
- Unlike its depiction in Walking with Monsters, the Chinese Anomalocaris saron grew no longer than 6 inches (including its posterior antennae). A hypothetical 6 feet long species was reconstructed from pieces of a mouth ring found in Australia.
- Also incorrect was the statement that Anomalocaris had "the very first eyes". This honor actually belongs to flatworms, which already existed durring the Ediacaran period.
- Due to how its feeding aparatus was structured; a small mouth opening with rows of inwards facing tooth plates, Anomalocaris would have been incapable of biting anything that didn't fit into its mouth, and thus rather unlikely to attack something of its own size.