A giant carnivourous shrimp, Anomalocaris canadensis, which lived 500-million-years ago, and was thought to crunch through the hard shells of trilobites, didn’t have any teeth and couldn’t even close it’s jaws.
“It’s because folks thought it was big, and people thought its mouth looked very fierce, and there was lots of evidence of injuries to trilobites,” says paleontologist James “Whitey” Hagadorn of the Denver Museum of Nature and Science.
Hagadorn and his team presented their 3-D model at this week’s annual meeting of the Geological Society of America in Denver.
After examining more than 400 fossilized Anomalocaris canadensis mouths, Hagadorn and his colleagues noticed the creature’s mouth folded — which would not have been possible if its parts were hard.
This suggests it didn’t have teeth but instead had flexible protrusions.
Hagadorn’s claim is further backed up by the fact fossilized remains of the creature’s mouth are not mineralized like the exoskeletons of the trilobites.
“Its mouth was softer than the very creature it was supposed to be eating,” Hagadorn said.