Friday, May 27, 2011

The 6ft shrimp that BIT BACK! Fossil found of prehistoric prawn monster that used razor- sharp teeth to crack shellfish - 26th May 2011

A giant prehistoric shrimp-like monster which terrorised the oceans more than half a billion years ago has been discovered by scientists.

The fearsome-looking beasts, known as anomalocaridids, grew up to 6ft long and – unlike today’s prawns – could bite back, using its razor-sharp teeth to crack open shellfish.

They were already believed to be the largest animals of the 'Cambrian' period which first spawned our complex ecosystem.

But now palaeontologists in Morocco have discovered they were much larger than first though and lived 30million years longer than first thought.

They dug up a giant fossil measuring a just over 3ft long – more than 12in bigger than other finds.

Previously found specimens of the marine predators had dated between 540 and 500million years old.

But this latest discovery was found among a trove of remains including thousands of examples of soft-bodied marine fauna dating back to about 488 to 472 million years ago.

This means they may have been larger than first thought as they developed for a much longer period of time.

The iconic anomalocaridids had large limbs resembling shrimp tails aLinknd a big mouth on the undersurface of the head.

They also had large eyes and a ring of sharp teeth that could close in like nippers to crack shellfish. Read More