Monday, 16 March 2009


Scientists from Sweden’s Uppsala University have pieced together a bizarre marine predator who trolled the seas some 505-million years ago. Hurdia, an extinct species of anomalocaridid, had a giant head, protruding hollow spike-shaped head shield and spiny claws for capturing prey. They look to have made a living swimming in the water column clawing around for prey to scoop into their tube shaped mouths. They lived at the time of trilobites, tuzoia and other soft-bodied marine creatures long extinct.

Bits and pieces of Hurdia have shown up in museums all over the world. Until now, much like their more robust cousin, Anomalocaris, they’ve been left unidentified or wildly mislabeled. Imagine Leggo clicked together sideways, upside down or split in two. Scientific papers have documented the many attempts at getting it right with respect to their body design.

Allison Daley, lead author on the study, is happy to set the record straight and will publish the groups findings in this month’s journal Science.