back to article Eyes on stalks: ancient predator a real monster

A group of scientists working on fossils from Kangaroo Island in South Australia has turned up a Cambrian predator with horror-movie specs: razor serrations in a circular mouth, claws at the front of its head, and compound eyes on stalks. Taagged Anomalocaris (roughly “irregular shrimp”, or perhaps “abnormal shrimp”), the …


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  1. earl grey

    I, for one

    Yes, let's bring this AND the mammoth back....mmm, mmm, good.

    1. Eddy Ito
      Thumb Up

      Yes, please!

      I'll get started building a bigger grill, a much bigger grill.

      Now then, let's start with metal suppliers, rebar...

      1. Arctic fox

        No, no. I'm going Chinese.

        All I need is a 2 cubic metre capacity deep-fryer, 1.5 cubic metres of soya oil, 200 litres of batter and possibly 50 litres or so of sweet n' sour sauce. Oh, and about 250 kg of fried rice - anyone got a *really* big wok I can borrow?

        1. Eddy Ito

          Are you sure Arctic fox?

          You'll be hungry again in 30 minutes.

  2. Chris Miller


    But big specimens grew up to 2m. So plenty of shrimp for all, then.

  3. Wombling_Free

    It looks...

    ...rather squamous & rugose to me.

    Altogether far too non-euclidian.

    Must remember to avoid Emu Bay, especially when the stars are right.

    1. CD001

      It wasn't discovered by Randolph Carter was it?!

      1. laird cummings

        Tekeli-li! Tekeli-li!

  4. JeffyPooh


    Obviously the early humans killed it off.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      Obviously ancient Aussies REALLY knew how to put another shrimp on the barbie!!

  5. GaboonViper67


    That's an awesome looking creature. God sure had a great imagination.

    1. The Flying Dutchman


      ... he was on acid while he "intelligently designed" this one.

      1. P. Lee

        fallible human artist's impression

        It was actually pink with stripes. You know, like modern shrimp.

        Apart from stuff getting smaller or dying out, has anything changed since before records began?

        1. PatientOne

          "Apart from stuff getting smaller or dying out, has anything changed since before records began?"

          Well, we're pretty confident that a lot has changed. We're just not sure what as we have no records...

      2. Francis Boyle

        Wasn't god

        permanently on acid. It would explain pretty much everything.

    2. Ru

      Dunno about that great

      Cos somehow this marine animal died in the great flood along with the dinosaurs. Seems like a slightly ropey design to me.

    3. Field Marshal Von Krakenfart


      Well if $DEITY did design it he couldn’t have been 500 million years ago because some followers of $DEITY believe that the earth was created only 6,000 years ago over a six-day period.

      Which explains why it is extinct, obviously 6,000 year old aussi’s hunted it to extinction, probably no doubt mounted on dinosaurs with saddles – see the Creation “Museum” near Petersburg, Kentucky

      I'd love to know why GaboonViper67's post got so many downvotes

      1. Just Thinking

        "I'd love to know why GaboonViper67's post got so many downvotes"

        These forums don't seem to get sarcasm.

        Even the upvoters might have been creationists?

  6. Petrea Mitchell

    Caris = claw

    It wasn't "turned up" at Kangaroo Island, the first specimens were found in the Burgess Shales decades ago. It was sometime in the 1980s that someone worked out that what had been classified as pieces of four distinct animals were in fact the same thing. Sadly, the rules of scientific nomenclature required the complete thing to get the earliest name associated with any of the pieces-- which was an isolated weird-looking claw, thus "strange claw". It doesn't really do the thing justice.

    And those are hardly even the most interesting eyes in the Cambrian. Check out Opabinia, which has 5, count 'em, FIVE eyes, all on stalks.

    1. Anonymous Cowerd


      Also "it’s the first time a fossil has shown sufficient surface detail to prove that it had compound eyes"?

      I thought we already had plenty of trilobites showing evidence of compound eyes?

    2. Marvin the Martian


      They feature very big in S.J. Gould's book on the Burgess Shale, "Wonderful life". A good (&) introductory read.

    3. slhilly

      Wonderful Life was a fantastic book!

      The article reminded me a bit of a fun SF novel called Fragment by Warren Fahy, featuring terrestrial mantis shrimp. Yoiks!

    4. Krasna Halopti

      An old discovery, well described in existing literature

      There's a great, very accessible description of the discovery and analysis of the Burgess Shale fossils in "Wonderful Life: Burgess Shale and the Nature of History " by Stephen Jay Gould. As well as Anomalocaris and Opabinia there are a host of other "alternative designs" which worked perfectly well in their environment, before changes led to a mass extinction.

      1. Petrea Mitchell

        Wonderful Life is wonderful

        Indeed, that's the very book that got me out of my dinosaur phase and hooked on much more interesting paleontology. It's aged pretty well, too-- IIRC, the only part that's seriously wrong now is the section on Hallucigenia, which, thanks to some better-preserved fossils found in China in the '90s, turns out to be relatively normal-looking (at least as Cambrian fauna goes).

        1. RW

          Gould's Hallucigenia mistake

          Gould later published an article in Natural History in which he owned up to his mistake in "Wonderful LIfe." That article was later put between covers, in "Bully for Brontosaurus" iirc.

  7. Nemo888
    Thumb Up

    But how did they taste?

    I would love to barbecue some shrimp steaks. Oh ya baby!

    1. ian 22


      They all taste like chicken.

  8. Subtilior

    What was it's alignment, and how many hit points did it have?

    1. a_been

      Neutral Evil and lots

    2. deadlockvictim


      It is clearly NE, with 120hp and AC 0. A roll of 20 is automatic death for the opponent when fighting the creature under water.

    3. Ian 31

      Fireball the bastard

      Then tuck in.

      1. a_been

        Fireball doesn't work under water. SLOW would probably work but why bother it's probably got magic resistance anyway. So caste haste on the fighters and get to the back ASAP. Of course this ,very cool to know that we had such fucked up creatures in the past as an aside, is probably a high level adventure so we will have an Assassin, in which case invisibility, aiery water, haste and fly will do the trick.

  9. Joe 19

    Is anyone else not surprised this was found in Australia?

    1. Armando 123

      Australia is probably the continent that wants to kill humans more.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Real live CGI

    You can see 'em swimming around in David Attenborough's First Life (

  11. Jad
    Thumb Up

    Survival of the Fittest ...

    I'm coming to the conclusion that it's not survival of the fittest, but survival of the sort of fittest and most adaptable ...

    otherwise that would surely have been our ancestor, and I'd have better eyesight :)

    1. Ru

      That's only because

      You have a poor conception of what 'fittest' means. Don't feel bad, almost everyone has the same misconceptions.

      There'd be no guarantee of better eyesight, but I'm pretty certain that grinding a 10000-facet corrective lens would cos a fair bit more than you might generally spend in an opticians...

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @a_been, You're wrong

    Animals tend to be Neutral (or I guess Unaligned in this new fangled 4th edition gubbins).

    I'll get my coat. It's the one with the dice

    1. a_been

      Yes but

      Yes but this is clearly some underwater creature that can fuck you up and it is a rule that all underwater creature that can fuck you up, hate the sun, are NE and are intelligent in a way "no humanoid can understand".

  13. Kane Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    Just waiting now...

    ...for the low budget SyFy channel movie version "MegaShrimp Vs. (insert other animal name here)".

  14. Dlmax

    Sci-Fi book on this beast already written

    Check out "Fragment" by William Fahy for what this guy could have evolved into give a few hundred million years of isolation.

  15. P Saunders

    I see as movie in the works

    but they'll have to come up with a better title than "Shrimp".

    1. No. Really!?


      Death Prawn?

    2. Arctic fox

      RE: "I see as movie in the works"

      "Claws" perhaps? Or maybe "Resident Crustacean"?

  16. Kebabbert


    the Peacock shrimp a strict descendant today? The Peacock mantiss is a fierce predator with the fastest movement in the world. It has a huge hammer which it releases to kill prey, the force of a .22 pistol it is said. There are several videos on Youtube with this little s*cker attacking prey with its hammer. Some of the Peacock mantisses have a spear instead of a hammer.

    Talking about fierce predators, among the fiercest on earth today, is probably the honey badger. Now THAT is a nasty little s*cker that even lions avoid. It attacks everything. Watch on youtube and you will understand. The same little animal in the movie "The Gods must be crazy". Really really ferocious.

    1. RW

      The Badass Honey Badger

      If you want to watch a Youtube video of the honey badger, go to "Badass honey badger", which has a fairly amusing re-do of the narration dubbed in.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Lovecraft would be proud.

  18. jmacadam

    This is what came to mind when giant shrimp with claws was mentioned:

  19. Anonymous Coward

    Terror from the Deep

    Can it survive the damage from a hit by a Sonic Blasta Gun? Is it vulnerable to Molecular Control attacks?


    A newbie XCOM aquanaut

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