Quirks & Quarks

Lobster-like Sea Creature Was a Giant

A 480-million-year old shelled creature that fed like modern filter-feeding whales.
Reconstruction of Aegirocassis benmoulae (Marianne Collins, ArtofFact)
Fossils found recently in Morocco belong to the earliest known filter-feeding sea creature.

The 480-million-year-old anomalocarid fed on plankton in a similar way to modern whales. Because the fossils are complete specimens, scientists studying them, including Dr. Allison Daley, a Canadian lecturer at Oxford University in England, and Research Fellow at the Oxford University Museum of Natural History, can tell their size for the first time.

At over two metres in length, they were among the largest creatures on Earth during the Ordovician period. The fossils also provide insight into the evolution of anomalocarid's modern relatives, the arthropods, such as crustaceans like the lobster and scorpion. 

Related Links

Paper in Nature
- Yale University release
- Oxford University release
BBC News story