Schinderhannes bartelsi

SCHINDERHANNES BARTELSI

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Anomalocarids are a fairly well-known group of predators from the Cambrian era.  Their distinguishing features include two barbed "great appendages" at the front of the head used for capturing prey, a mouth shaped like a pineapple ring, and a segmented body with flap-like swimming fins along the sides.  Until recently, anomalocarids were known only from the Cambrian-- the first era of large multicellular animals (although that assumption might be changing as scientists learn more about the weird Ediacaran organisms...).  But in 2009 paleontologists working the Hunsrück Slate fossil beds in Germany discovered a new anomalocarid species from the Devonian, about 72 million years after the end of the Cambrian.

  Schinderhannes has the great appendages and pineapple-ring mouth of its ancestors, but its swim-fins have been reduced to two long "wings" just behind the head as well as a pair of flippers at the tail end.

I particularly wanted to illustrate Schinderhannes because, as far as I can tell, there are only about three or four reconstructions of it on the web.  I wanted to do my small part to spread awareness of this neat little creature.

Its name, by the way, comes from the name of a famous German bandit who lived in the area where the fossil was found.

Reference:   Kühl, Gabriele et al. 2009 A Great-Appendage Arthropod with a Radial Mouth from the Lower Devonian Hunsrück Slate, Germany. Science 323: 771-773.

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Schinderhannes bartelsi ©2010 John Meszaros.  All Rights Reserved