When researchers discover fossils of species new to science, it is only natural that they seek to find a place in the colossal tree of life, and bring them together with related species that may even exist today , A newly discovered species of ancient creatures brings this practice to its absolute limit.
Tiny fossils discovered in both Colombia and the United States are evidence of the existence of a small, approximately 90 million year old marine animal. It's called a crab, but researchers who discovered it quickly point out how dramatically different it is from any other known crab species.
The species is so strange that their discoverers are actually bizarre nature in their name. The tiny crab was named Callichimaera perplexa and, as the name implies, its discovery was quite confusing to scientists.
With curve, paddle-like legs for swimming and two massive, all-seeing eyes that dot his pointed face are built like no other crab in the fossil record. It is unique not only for the oddities that it offers, but also for the usual crab features that are completely lacking.
" Callichimaera perplexa is so unique and alien that it can be considered as the platypus of the crab world," said Jale Luque of Yale, who led the research, in a statement. "It suggests how new forms evolve over time and become so different. Usually we think of crabs as big animals with wide carapaces, powerful claws, small eyes in long eye stems and a small tail stowed under the body. Well, Callichimaera resists all these "grumpy" traits and forces us to rethink our definition of what makes a crab a crab.
It's a fantastic discovery that reminds us how different it may be Life on Earth today seems to be filled with more bizarre development forks than we can imagine.  Image Source: Yale