Kingdom Animalia
Phylum Arthropoda/Onychophora
Class Dinocaridida
Order Radiodonta
Suborder Anomalocarida
Family Anomalocarididae
Genus Anomalocaris
1st Species Anomalocaris canadensis
2nd Species Anomalocaris pennsylvanica
3rd Species Anomalocaris briggsi
4th Species Anomalocaris saron
Other attributes
Time Range 521-505 mya
Location Canada, China, United States of America
Name Meaning Abnormal shrimp
Physical Dimensions 97 centimeters long for A.canadensis; 88 centimeters long for A.saron
Dietary Classification Carnivore

Anomalocaris is an anomalocaridid radiodont dinocaridid arthropod from the Cambrian Series 2-3 of Canada, China, the United States of America, and Australia. It was named in in 1892 by Joseph Frederick Whiteaves. It was the world's first superpredator, and its separated body parts were confused for being a shrimp, a jellyfish, and a sponge, right before they were combined to form an arthropod.


Anomalocaris was a unique arthropod. It had a long body, long, fin-like lobes running down the sides of its body, a rounded head with big eyes, spiny arms, and a disk-like mouth, and in the Anomalocaris saron species, 2 long, ribbon-like tails protruding from the back end. Its body would have been covered in a semi-hard, chitinous exoskeleton.


Anomalocaris was a predator, preying on small invertebrates. In one species, Anomalocaris canadensis, the arm spines were short and stout, and may have been used for rupturing the exoskeletons of trilobites, while in other Anomalocaris species, the arms spines were long and thin, and were used for getting a hold of softer-bodied prey.


Anomalocaris had the most complex eyes of any Cambrian arthropod, and by extension, the most complex eyes of any arthropod in general (only beaten by dragonflies). As well as this, it had a unique swimming style, propelling itself through the water by undulating the fin-like lobes on its body. For a while, it has been suspected that Anomalocaris was undoubtedly a durophagous (able to eat armored prey) predator, swimming up to trilobites and eating them in one bite. This was partially disproved, as species such as Anomalocaris briggsi, had long and weakly-built arm spines, and were more adapted towards feeding on softer-bodied prey; however, it is possible that Anomalocaris canadensis, with its short and robust arm spines, may have preyed on hard-shelled trilobites.

In popular cultureEdit

Anomalocaris has appeared in documentaries like Earth: Making of a Planet and Australia: The Time Traveller's Guide, where it commonly introduced by swimming out of the blue and eating a trilobite. So far, one of its biggest public appearances was in the first episode of the 2005 documentary, Walking with Monsters, where the Chinese, long ribbon-tailed species, Anomalocaris saron, is featured as a predator of the trilobite genus Redlichia (despite not being adapted towards this diet in real life), and shown as fighting rival males for no visible reason. Another of its biggest public appearances was in the second episode of the 2010 documentary, First Life, where the most well-known species, Anomalocaris canadensis, is shown as a ruthless predator, ready to take a bite out of anything it would come across.

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