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Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Coffee!!: Official Canadian monster from 505 million years ago

In "ROM unravels 'monster mystery': Fossil analysis sheds light on pint-sized predator that stalked Canada's seas 505 million years ago", (March 20, 2009), Joseph Hall tells us,
That painstaking, jigsaw-puzzle analysis, published today in the journal Science, reveals that this razor-toothed predator was in fact one of nature's weirdest creatures.

And, boy, was it ugly.

It had protruding, button-like eyes, set behind a large armoured plate that extended from its head like a blue whale's snout. This bony "carpus" likely funnelled prey into a pair of grasping pincers that shoved the hapless food into a round mouth sporting at least three rows of pointed teeth.

"This mouth is kind of nasty. I always use the analogy of a pencil sharpener," said Jean-Bernard Caron, an associate curator of invertebrate paleontology at the ROM.

"You put anything into this and you get the prey completely cut and broken into pieces," said Caron, a paper co-author.

The rest of the body was segmented with a tiny set of propeller-like fins at the end to help move this formidable predator along.
This reminds me of the comment of a friend who ran into Professor Guy Narbonne on the Avalon Peninsula in Newfoundland. That excellent scholar kindly showed him and his family some Burgess Shale/Cambrian fossils.

My friend said later, "Oh wow! I'm glad that's not around here today!"

(But of course my friend was only joking, really.)

Still, if you think life is bad now ...

Find out why there is an intelligent design controversy:


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