Palentologists have discovered a new lobsterlike animal that lived about 480 million years ago, but before you fantasize about breaking out the melted butter, scientists also revealed Aegirocassis benmoulae measured nearly 7 feet long.
Moroccan fossil hunter Mohamed Ben Moula found Aegirocassis benmoulae, which was alive during the early Ordovician period. The fossils were three dimensional and well preserved.
“This would have been one of the largest animals alive at the time,” said Dr. Allison Daley of Oxford University, co-author of the scientific paper published in Nature. “These animals are filling an ecological role that hadn’t previously been filled by any other animal.”
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Co-author Dr. Derek Briggs of the Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History and the Yale University’s Department of Geology and Geophysics agreed. “Aegirocassis benmoulae is a truly remarkable looking creature,” he said.
Lead author Dr. Peter Van Roy of Yale University, said the find changed the narrative of the world’s biological history. “Giant filter-feeding sharks and whales arose at the time of a major plankton radiation, and Aegirocassis benmoulae represents a much, much older example of this trend.”
Daley credited the well-preserved fossil for helping scientists make the groundbreaking discovery. “Without these 3D remains, we may never have got the insight into these animals’ anatomy that we did,” she said. “We have found the oldest example of gigantism in a freely swimming filter feeder.”