This 90-million-year-old crab chimera is a beautiful disorder of an animal

Scientists have discovered a new species of crab that swam in the seas 95 million years ago, and behold, it could be Pixar's next character.

The little pocket crab, called Callichimaera perplexedHe was different from his modern cousins.

This crab sported a small lobster shell, with flattened legs like oars, and huge Pound Puppies-style peepers protruding from its head, a trait that indicates that the creature actively used its eyes for whatever it was doing, the researchers said.

But it is not only the caricature aspect of the creature that tickles some researchers, but also what the ancient animal means to science.

chimeracrab web(Daniel Ocampo R, Vencejo Films)

Javier Luque, a postdoctoral paleontologist at Yale University and the University of Alberta, said the "cute", "unusual" decapod crustacean will make scientists "reconsider what a crab is."

"It gives us information about how novel body shapes can evolve over time," Luque said in an interview on Thursday. The Washington Post.

Screenshot 2019 04 25 at 10.48.49 a.m.(Oksana Vernygora / University of Alberta)

Luque said he made the discovery in 2005 in the mountains of Pesca, Colombia. A graduate geology student at the time, Luque said he was looking for fossils when he discovered a treasure trove of well-preserved fossil specimens: shrimps, lobsters and crabs with large bulbous eyes.

He and his research team, who have been studying the fossils found in Colombia, as well as the fossils found in the United States, published their findings on Wednesday in the magazine. Progress of science.

The investigation provides information about such a peculiar creature that has been nicknamed "the platypus of the crab world," according to a press release.

So, what do we know about this open-eyed creature?

The crab lived during the middle Cretaceous, when the dinosaurs dominated the land, the land mbades were in motion and the oceans were taking shape. Based on where the fossils were found, he lived in what is now Colombia, North Africa and the United States, more specifically in Wyoming.

3IO2VSWDD5DOJN5LJWYAAMSADE(Elissa Martin / Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History)

Your name, Callichimaera perplexed, means "beautiful and bewildered chimera", an allusion to a Greek mythological hybrid creature composed of parts of the body of several animals.

Makes sense. Luque said investigators believe the crab had a "mosaic of body parts," which includes unprotected compound eyes, a spindle-shaped body, and leg-shaped parts of the mouth that suggest it retained larval features until age. adult

The body of the crab was the size of a quarter.

His eyes were so large that, if he had been a human, he would have had eyeballs as big as footballs.

Their legs were built more to swim, not to crawl.

His key-shaped claws made him a powerful little hunter.

And if the crab had lived another 95 million years or so, it probably would have reached Hollywood.

Luque, the lead author of the study, told Live Science, "I call it my beautiful nightmare because it was so beautiful and frustrating" for the researchers to understand.

Heather Bracken-Grissom, an evolutionary biologist at Florida International University who specializes in decapods, crustaceans such as crabs or lobsters, said there are more than 7,000 species of crabs that live today.

This "strange find," he said, will allow scientists to reevaluate what they know about them.

"This new transitional fossil is making us rethink how crabs have evolved over time because it is introducing this unique body shape we did not know before," Bracken-Grissom told The Post.

She said that it reveals "an early lineage in the crab of life".

2019 © The Washington Post

This article was originally published by The Washington Post.

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