Discovered the fossil of a giant ancient sea predator


26/05/2011

Paleontologists have discovered that a group of remarkable ancient sea creatures existed for much longer and reached significantly larger than previously expected, due to the extremely well-preserved fossil, discovered recently in Morocco.

Creation, known to scientists as anomalokarididy, have already been recognized as the largest Cambrian animals, their appearance is typical of the period of the "Cambrian explosion", which is characterized by the sudden appearance of all the major animal groups and the establishment of complex ecosystems about 540-500 million years ago. Fossil of this period indicates that these marine predators reached about two feet long. Until now, scientists also thought these strange invertebrates, who may have been echinated long forelimbs that presumably used to hunt for worms and other victims, and the ring of plates around the mouth, disappeared at the end of the Cambrian period.

Now a team of researchers led by Peter Van Roy (Peter Van Roy) and Derika Briggs (Derek Briggs), director of the Museum of Natural History, discovered a giant fossil anomalokaridida that reaches one meter (over three feet) in length. Fossil anomalokaridida indicate the possible existence of a series of hair-like plates in each segment across the animal’s back, which, as scientists assume, could function as gills.

In addition, the creature belongs to the Ordovician period, the intensive biodiversifikatsii that followed the Cambrian, meaning these animals existed for 30 million years longer than previously thought.

"Anomalokarididy - one of the most iconic groups of Cambrian animals," - said Briggs. "These giant invertebrate predators and scavengers began to symbolize the unfamiliar morphology displayed by organisms that diverged early from the origin, leading to modern marine animals and then died out. Now we know that they do not disappear as long as we thought."

Samples - it’s just part of the new collection of the fossil from Morocco that includes thousands of specimens of marine fauna with soft flesh, relating to the early Ordovician Period, 488-472 million years ago. Because hard shell fossils preserved better than soft tissue, scientists had an incomplete and ambivalent view of the marine life that existed during the Ordovician period before the recent discoveries in Morocco. The animals were discovered in Morocco, on the muddy sea floor at a fairly deep, shrouded in clouds of sediment that has helped to keep their soft bodies.

"The new discoveries in Morocco indicate that animals characteristic of the Cambrian, such as anomalokarididy, continued to have a significant impact on the biodiversity and ecology of marine communities still many millions of years later," - said Van Roy.

Original: Physorg Translation: M. Potter


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