Before grizzly bears and African lions, before sabertooth tigers and dire wolves, before T-Rex and Velociraptors, and even before sharks roamed the enormous, Earth encompassing, Panthalassa ocean – there was the grandaddy of all apex predators – the Anomalocaris. He was the very first king to take the throne at the top of the food chain, and stalked the seas when nothing lived on land, about a half a billion years ago during the Cambrian period. This 4 – 6 foot long super shrimp, dwarfed every other animal on the planet. He had barbed, arm like appendages that shot out from in front of his tooth filled, square shaped mouth, that made short work of Trilobites left and right. But, his real secret weapon was still very new to the animal world – the Anomalocaris had eyes, and big ones at that. Each eye contained well over 15,000 lens, such as modern insects do, which helped it zero in on prey items along ancient sea floors, and in the water column in an almost 360 degree circumference around him. In fact, it is believed that the eye sight of Anomalocaris rivals most anything seen since.
Paleontologists have found numerous fossils of this organism, even complete ones in the last several decades, and so we have a great idea exactly how this animal looked and moved. As usual, I still took some liberties in fleshing him out and roughing him up a bit, whereas so many other reconstructions I’ve seen tend to smooth him out to almost a plastic sheen. I gave his head a more formidable brow shape and muscular feel, so as his two front arms feel very connected and capable; like biceps connected to deltoids. And I wanted his carapace to feel very thickand weathered, furthering his fierce appearance as much as possible; because let's face it, for a super predator he’s pretty adorable.
-Aaron John Gregory, Cotton Crustacean
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