Monday, May 14, 2012

I've been doing my blog for one whole year!

My very first post was on May 15, 2011, when my mom took pictures of my Lego jawless fish and asked me if I wanted to start a blog. And I did! I've been doing this for a whole year. To celebrate the anniversary, I picked five of my favorite creatures that I've written about in the last year, and here they are:


1. Anomalocaris (here and here). Anomalocaris was a giant Cambrian predator related to today's velvet worms. It crushed hard-shelled animals with its two seven-inch claws and its "pineapple ring" mouth. It had eleven lobes along the side of its body which helped it hover and swim in mid-water. It also had no legs. It was at least three feet long, but it was almost definitely no more than six feet. Most of the complete fossils are of juveniles. Coprolites containing bits of trilobites have been found in Australia. I hypothesized that Anomalocaris may have given live birth just like today's velvet worms. 

© lifebeforethedinosaurs.com


2. Opabinia. A four-inch-long Cambrian predator, including its proboscis (three inches long without this appendage). Opabinia used its proboscis to poke around in worm holes and rip chunks of flesh off of carcass. Strangely, Opabinia had five mushroom-like eyes on top of its head, each one as large as the other. It was related to Anomalocaris and velvet worms, and I think it could have given live birth too. Opabinia also had eleven lobes along its sides and, like Anomalocaris, no legs. 

© lifebeforethedinosaurs.com


3. Scyphocrinites. Scyphocrinites was a strange Silurian-to-Devonian crinoid that floated upside down at the surface of the water by means of a balloon-like organ called a lobolith in place of the gripping root-like organs that most crinoids possess. Unlike most crinoids, Scyphocrinites could not purposely move (bottom-dwelling crinoids can un-anchor themselves and drag their bodies across the sea floor with their arms to find a better attachment place). Scyphocritinies could only move with the current. Fortunately, this meant that it was always in the same place as its microscopic food, plankton, which was also being swept around by the current. Scyphocritinies was large, but I can't say how large, because I've never found a source that talks about its size other than that its large. The calyx (body) has never been found attached to the lobolith, but we know the calyx and the loboliths found belong to the same species. The same exact stem has been found attached to the lobolith, and that kind of stem has also been found attached to the calyx.  All the pieces of Scyphocrinites were found in Morocco.

© lifebeforethedinosaurs.com


4. Helicoprion (here and here). Helicoprion was a bizarre shark from the Carboniferous to the Triassic. The only fossils that have ever been found of it are its mysterious "buzz saw" lower jaws, which helped it slice prey such as fish and squid. It is unlikely that Helicoprion ate hard-shelled animals such as ammonites, because if it ate mostly ammonites there would be a lot of broken teeth found in the tooth whorls. Broken teeth are nearly absent in the tooth whorls. And sharks tend to eat a lot. The biggest tooth whorls that have ever been found are about two feet across, which meant that Helicoprion would have been 30 to 50 feet long. A very long shark, which would have meant it needed a lot of food and would have had a monstrous appetite. It must have been a top predator. Helicoprion was related to other eugeneodontids such as Edestus and Ornithoprion. It is not known where exactly in the lower jaw the tooth whorl went, but the most modern idea is that it was embedded in cartilage to make a circular extension of teeth on the lower jaw. This idea also includes that the lower jaw was as long as the upper jaw, and that they were both quite long. Most reconstructions of Helicoprion show that it had little or no teeth in the upper jaw. 

© lifebeforethedinosaurs.com


5. Siphusauctum. Siphusauctum is a weird, newly-discovered Cambrian stalked animal. It looked reminiscent of a ctenophore on a stalk and was a filter feeder that fed on plankton. The body was roughly four inches tall. There is a very small amount of information on this animal because it is so newly discovered. It was found many years ago in the Burgess Shale, but was discovered in the collection at the Royal Ontario Museum in 2012. It was described by Jean-Bernard Caron and Lorna J. O'Brien. 

© lifebeforethedinosaurs.com

38 comments:

  1. Congratulations on your first anniversary! I love reading your blog and it's so educational. You do a great job.

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    1. Thank you! I'll keep trying to do the best I can!

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  2. Congratulations Art! I've learned so much from your site. Keep up the good work!

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    1. Thank you for reading my blog!

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  3. Congratulations!

    Also, have you seen the Cambrian Explosion Song? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EMwxwRA9Xr8 it mentions anomalocaris and opabinia :)

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    1. Thank you so much!

      I posted that song a while back because I love it so much. http://www.lifebeforethedinosaurs.com/2011/07/cambrian-explosion-song.html

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  4. Congratulations, Art, on your first anniversary (of many, I hope) of blogging. Great job!

    I'm looking at your pageview count; as of this minute, it's at 174,168 views. That's 477 views a day! Wow!

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    1. Thank you! That's amazing how many people read my blog!

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  5. Fantastic milestone! Keep up the great work!

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  6. Congratulations!

    Your blog is awesome.

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  7. Thanks for the excellent info.
    Seems you are interested in the etymology of the names of the animals you write about.
    Thanks again.

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  8. Happy Birthday, blog! Thanks to Art and the elves.

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  9. Cool blog! Happy anniversary.

    -A., K., and M.

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  10. First time, first time.
    Nice job, to you and those that support you.

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  11. Congratulations! Youre blog is an inspiration, Art. Here's to many more years!

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  12. Art, I wish I was as smart as you are when I was your age! Wonderful blog & congratulations on the anniversary! Best of luck in the future!

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  13. You...are..AWESOME!!

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  14. Hey Art!

    Congratulations on your anniversary. I am seriously impressed by your blog. Keep it up!

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  15. Congratulations on your first anniversary! You rock!!!

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  16. Anomalocaris! Good choice. Congratulations on the blog. Keep up the good work

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  17. Anomalocaris is my favorite too. The picture you drew of it rocks. You have quite a talent with illustrations.

    Congratulations on your first anniversary.

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  18. Happy Birthday! Hope you got some nice fossils as presents. :D

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  19. Ey! Congratulations for your first year bloggin'! And cheers for many years to come.

    From Argentina :)

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  20. Happy bloggiversary! I've enjoyed this blog so much.

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  21. Congratulations on a year of great blogging. Been reading your work with my 6 yr old who is inspired by you. Taking him to the Burgess shale -- don't we all love anomalocaris -- and the Tyrrell Museum science camp in the summer.
    Thanks for all your hard work and best of luck in the future.

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  22. You are a inspiration to us all! Never stop being curious!

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  23. Happy Blogiversary, and may you have many more!

    cicely

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  24. Congratulation on your blog and for coming to the notice of PZ Myers, a fellow scientist and blogger!

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  25. Hi, Art.

    I just found your blog today, and I bookmarked it. It's awesome!

    You've got skillz, my friend. Keep up the good work!

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  26. Congratulations on your first year bloging. Your knowledge of Precambrian life is very impressive. Yours is one of the very few blogs that I have bookmarked and check regularly, it is inspiring and I always learn something new. Keep up the good work, sir, and thank you.

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  27. Good job Art! I'm showing this to my siblings as soon as they get home from school. They'll love your blog.

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