Thursday

super-predator


Ancient super-predator eyes found in Australia


SYDNEY: Australian scientists on Thursday hailed the discovery of a pair of insect-like eyes belonging to a freakish prehistoric super-predator which trawled the seas more than 500 million years ago.


Measuring three centimetres (1.2 inches) across and with a whopping 16,000 individual lenses the fossilised eyes, from a huge shellfish-type creature called anomalocaris, were found in rocks on Australia's Kangaroo Island.

Anomalocaris could grow up to one metre long and were considered the "great white shark" of the Cambrian era, topping the ancient marine food chain, according to lead researcher John Paterson.

Modern-day houseflies have about 3,000 lenses in their eyes, while dragonflies have about 30,000 -- the only creature known to have more lenses than anomalocaris.

Paterson said the discovery showed that anomalocaris had lived in well-lit, clear waters and had developed sophisticated vision extremely rapidly, likely triggering an evolutionary "arms race" among other creatures.

Spines, poison glands and other defence mechanisms had probably erupted among creatures eager to escape detection by its huge eyes, which protruded from the side of its head on stalks. (the news)