500 million-year-old ‘abnormal shrimp’ used facial spikes to ‘pincushion’ soft prey

500 million-year-old ‘abnormal shrimp’ used facial spikes to ‘pincushion’ soft prey

An artist's depiction of Anomalocaris canadensis. The grey-colored creature is depicted swimming underwater and has a whale-like tail, appendages extending from either side of its long body, and two curved facial spikes on its head

An artist’s depiction of Anomalocaris canadensis, a Cambrian critter that pierced its prey with its menacing appendages. (Image credit: Katrina Kenny)

Around 500 million years ago, an apex predator no larger than a house cat terrorized the seas in search of prey to puncture with its spiky facial appendages.

For years, paleontologists thought that the arthropod Anomalocaris canadensis, whose name roughly means “the abnormal shrimp from Canada,” used its spears to pierce trilobites and other hard-shelled prey. However, a new study finds that this Cambrian critter likely hunted soft-bodied animals instead, according to a study published July 5 in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B.

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