Strange ancient Chinese ‘crab innovation’ had eyes on stalks, spiked arms and a tail full of ‘blades’

Imagine a creature shaped like a toilet brush running on the sea floor about 500 million years ago near what is now southwestern China. Now imagine this toilet brush with floating eyes on the rods; a pair of arm-like appendages bordered by spines; and a tail fan with long, wide blades, and you’ve got a nice picture of a recently described strange animal that lived in the Cambrian period (541 to 485.4 million years ago).

In 1990, scientists found fossil specimens, one of which was almost completely juvenile, at Chengjiang Lagerst├Ątte in Yunnan Province, China. The juvenile was nearly 6 inches (15 centimeters) long and about 2 inches (5 cm) wide, and belongs to a group of extinct oceanic ancestral arthropods called radiodonts, the researchers reported Sept. 7 in the journal. Journal of the Geological Society (opens in a new tab).

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