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Ancient super predator had acute vision

Dec. 7, 2011 at 8:38 PM   |   Comments

ADELAIDE, Australia, Dec. 7 (UPI) -- The world's first super predator at the top of Earth's first food chain had remarkable vision, Australian paleontologists say.

Researchers at the South Australian Museum and University of Adelaide were part of a study of exceptionally well preserved fossil eyes of the fearsome Anomalocaris, the apex predator in the Cambrian ocean from over 500 million years ago, a university release reported Wednesday.

The creature -- 3 feet long, with formidable grasping claws at the front of its head and a circular mouth with razor-sharp serrations -- had highly acute vision, rivaling or exceeding that of most living insects and crustaceans, the scientists said.

The fossilized multifaceted compound eyes -- similar to those found in flies and crabs -- are among the largest ever to have existed, they said, with each eye more than an inch long and containing over 16,000 lenses.

The number of lenses and other aspects of the design of the eyes suggest Anomalocaris would have seen its world with exceptional clarity while hunting in well-lit waters, researchers said.

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