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Fossil fragments reveal 500-million-year-old monster predator
Date:3/19/2009

> by the possession of a huge three-part carapace that projects out from the front of the animal's head.

"This structure is unlike anything seen in other fossil or living arthropods," says Ph.D. student Allison Daley, who has been studying the fossils for three years as part of her doctoral thesis.

"The use of the large carapace extending from the front of its head is a mystery. In many animals, a shell or carapace is used to protect the soft-parts of the body, as you would see in a crab or lobster, but this structure in Hurdia is empty and does not cover or protect the rest of the body. We can only guess at what its function might have been."

Hurdia and Anomalocaris are both early offshoots of the evolutionary lineage that led to the arthropods, the large modern group that contains the insects, crustaceans, spiders, millipedes and centipedes. They reveal details of the origins of important features that define the modern arthropods such as their head structures and limbs. As well as its bizarre frontal carapace, Hurdia reveals exquisite details of the gills associated with the body, some of the best preserved in the fossil record.

"Most of the body is covered in the gills, which were probably necessary to provide oxygen to such a large, actively swimming animal," says Allison Daley.


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Contact: Allison Daley
allison.daley@geo.uu.se
46-076-712-5431
Uppsala University
Source:Eurekalert

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