The eyes were on stalks on the strange shrimp’s head, and each was 2 to 3 centimetres across – about the size of an olive. They were covered with lenses, each 70 to 110 micrometres in diameter. That means each eye had at least 16,000 lenses.
“Very few modern animals, particularly arthropods, have eyes as sophisticated as this,” says Paterson. Houseflies, for instance, have a mere 3000 lenses. The only comparable species are some predatory dragonflies that have up to 28,000 lenses in each eye.
Anomalocaris’s acute eyesight probably allowed it to seek out its prey in the brightly lit upper layers of the ocean.
Story: Michael Marshall, NewScientist | Photo: Katrina Kenny/University of Adelaide