Looking a bit like enlarged woodlice, ancient trilobites crawled along the seabed and had an exoskeleton made of calcite — nature’s version of a suit of armour.
Anomalocaris, with its large stalked eyes, is considered a top predator that swam in the oceans more than 500 million years ago.
Our study on weird ancient marine animals called radiodonts supports the idea that vision played a crucial role during the Cambrian Explosion, a rapid burst of evolution about 500 million years ago.
Ancient fatty molecules, once believed to be traces of some of the first animals to live on Earth, may have been produced by algae instead.
Every cloud has a silver lining – even the debris cloud from an asteroid impact
A fossil of the giant new trilobite species
There is evidence to show this monster of the ancient sea was a cannibal, feeding on its own kind.
Dotted Yeti / shutterstock
Exceptionally well preserved 500m year old fossils show Cambrian seas were more diverse than scientists had thought.
A modern arthropod (the centipede
Cormocephalus) crawls over its Cambrian ‘flatmate’ (the trilobite Estaingia).
Michael Lee / South Australian Museum and Flinders University
Modern animals took over our planet much more quickly than previously thought. This has both welcome and disturbing implications for the future of life on our rapidly changing planet
Strange frond-like sea creatures are among the planet’s earliest animals, but new research dates them and the entire animal kingdom to much earlier than first thought.
New research suggests life on Earth became more diverse because of a change in biology related to stem cells, not just rising oxygen levels.
Here’s the fossil… what can you tell about how this animal lived?
Matteo De Stefano/MUSE-Science Museum
With no identifiable body parts, it’s hard to know how these fossilized creatures lived. A new approach models how the ocean’s water would interact with their unique shapes – hinting at their lifestyle.
Were legs a quirk of genetic mutation rather than an evolutionary inevitability?
Robert Nicholls, Palaeocreations
Uncovering the monsters of the prehistoric deep.
The cycles of nutrients into the oceans following the building of mountains may have been a prime driver of evolutionary change.
John Long, Flinders University
The rise and fall of the essential elements for life could have influenced the way life evolved over many millions of years.
Jumping the shark.
There’s a lot more to palaeontology than just dinosaurs, as these incredible lifeforms demonstrate.
Rob Nicholls, Palaeocreations
In a recent paper in Nature, we described a strange marine animal, called Tamisiocaris. They were giants that swam in the oceans over 500 million years ago. They had strange looking appendages on their…
Marine life during the Cambrian explosion. A giant
Anomalocaris investigates a trilobite, while Opabinia looks on from the right, and the ‘walking cactus’ Diania crawls underneath.
Katrina Kenny & Nobumichi Tamura
The sudden appearance of a range of modern animals about half a billion years ago, during evolution’s “big bang”, has intrigued and puzzled generations of biologists from Charles Darwin onwards. A new…