An ancient crab that lived during the dinosaur era was so strange that paleontologists call it the platypus of the crab world.
This newly discovered creature – Callichimaera perplexa which means "amazingly beautiful chimera", had a variety of body parts. This name refers to the mythical chimera from Greek mythology, which had a lion's head, a goat's body and a serpent's tail.
But unlike the mythological version, this bizarre chimera actually existed: it had the mouth of a shrimp, the claws of The Explorer found out, a modern crab, the shell of a lobster and the paddle-like appendages of a sea scorpion. His eyes were so huge that it would look like a human with football players, said research director Javier Luque, a postdoctoral fellow in paleontology at Yale University and the University of Alberta in Canada. [Photos: Ancient Crab is the Strangest You̵
"[It had] huge, huge eyes," Luque told Live Science. "They are like Little Red Riding Hood [when she asks the wolf]:" What big eyes you have. What do you use them for?
In this case C. Perplexa probably used his big eyes, not to mention the mighty claws, to hunt small crustaceans, such as the prawn shrimp. "We do not think so Luque said, "We think they were actually raiders."
Luque made the first discovery of C. perplexa remains in 2005 looking for fossils as a student in Pesca, a city in the Colombian Andes. "They looked leggy," he said. "It looked like a crab, but I thought it was more like a spider."
After much study, he found out that the creature was a strange, quarter-sized crab, which lived about 95 million to 90 million years ago, the Cretaceous. Within a few years he heard stories about similar fossil crabs that were discovered in Wyoming and Morocco. Soon he had more than 70 specimens of these tiny crustaceans, including babies, adults, men and women.
Because these crabs were found in such diverse locations and environments, they were likely to be very adaptable, Luque said. C. perplexa is so extraordinary that it forms a whole new branch of the evolutionary tree for crabs, he added.
Not only did this swimming crab look like a mix of different animals, it also looked like a combination of baby and adult parts. Adults, for example, had big, sockellose eyes. curved claws; leg-like mouth parts; an exposed tail; and a long body – all of them can be seen in cancer larvae.
In essence, the discovery of C. Perplexa shows that "real crabs" have lost and redesigned their body plans many times over the course of history.
"I call it my beautiful nightmare because it's so beautiful and frustrating," said Luque. 19659002] The study was published online today (April 24) in the journal Science Advances.
Originally published on Live Science .