History UsefulNotes / PrehistoricLifeOtherExtinctCreatures

15th May '17 12:26:38 PM chasemaddigan
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However, modern scientists do not accept such an unfairly "racistic" distinction. Furthermore, "lower animals" often show biological traits and behaviours traditionally considered typical of mammals and birds: social attitudes, parental care, intelligence, even some "warm-blood" abilities. On the other hand, in popular media they may be treated as stupid/unfeeling brutes even to this day. Documentaries not excluded: within the ''[[Series/WalkingWithDinosaurs Walking With]]'' series, for example, ''Series/WalkingWithDinosaurs'' and ''Series/WalkingWithBeasts'' show dinosaurs and mammals as smart/social/caring creatures, while the meaningfully-named ''Walking With [[PrehistoricMonster Monsters]]'' and ''[[SeaMonster Sea Monsters]]'' focus mainly to non-dino reptiles and to all the animal groups listed below, with only animals with bones shown as being smart/social/caring (YouFailBiologyForever).

to:

However, modern scientists do not accept such an unfairly "racistic" distinction. Furthermore, "lower animals" often show biological traits and behaviours traditionally considered typical of mammals and birds: social attitudes, parental care, intelligence, even some "warm-blood" abilities. On the other hand, in popular media they may be treated as stupid/unfeeling brutes even to this day. Documentaries not excluded: within the ''[[Series/WalkingWithDinosaurs Walking With]]'' series, for example, ''Series/WalkingWithDinosaurs'' and ''Series/WalkingWithBeasts'' show dinosaurs and mammals as smart/social/caring creatures, while the meaningfully-named ''Walking With ''[[Series/WalkingWithMonsters Walking With]] [[PrehistoricMonster Monsters]]'' and ''[[SeaMonster Sea Monsters]]'' focus mainly to non-dino reptiles and to all the animal groups listed below, with only animals with bones shown as being smart/social/caring (YouFailBiologyForever).



* Lepospondyls were among the most numerous and diversified "amphibians" in the Carboniferous. They could have been the closest relatives of lissamphibians, and perhaps their ancestors. Usually with long bodies and weak limbs, they lived mainly in water or in soil. Some were like salamanders, ex. the whip-tailed ''Urocordylus''; other were limbless and eel-like, ex. ''Phlegetontia''. But the most interesting one is certainly ''Diplocaulus''. 2 ft long and having lived in Early Permian North America, its unique boomerang-like head makes it one of the most bizarre-looking prehistoric animals and a very common sight in paleo books (even though it has not appeared in ''Walking With Monsters'' or other CGI documentaries). The purpose of its head protrusions has made real headaches to paleontologists (A swimming device? A display tool? A mean to excavate the bottom of lakes?) Some have even suggested the shape of the head prevented ''Diplocaulus'' to be swallowed by larger amphibians such as ''Eryops''!

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* Lepospondyls were among the most numerous and diversified "amphibians" in the Carboniferous. They could have been the closest relatives of lissamphibians, and perhaps their ancestors. Usually with long bodies and weak limbs, they lived mainly in water or in soil. Some were like salamanders, ex. the whip-tailed ''Urocordylus''; other were limbless and eel-like, ex. ''Phlegetontia''. But the most interesting one is certainly ''Diplocaulus''. 2 ft long and having lived in Early Permian North America, its unique boomerang-like head makes it one of the most bizarre-looking prehistoric animals and a very common sight in paleo books (even though it has not appeared in ''Walking With Monsters'' ''Series/WalkingWithMonsters'' or other CGI documentaries). The purpose of its head protrusions has made real headaches to paleontologists (A swimming device? A display tool? A mean to excavate the bottom of lakes?) Some have even suggested the shape of the head prevented ''Diplocaulus'' to be swallowed by larger amphibians such as ''Eryops''!



* ''Ichthyostega'' has been one of the most iconic paleo-amphibians. Found in Greenland, [[note]] HilariousInHindsight, during most the prehistory Greenland was ''really'' a Green Land covered with forests; the ice cap formed only 30 million years ago in the Cenozoic. [[/note]], it lived before all the animals above, in the Devonian Period. It has been considered the "very first land vertebrate" for about a century, and the common ancestor of all tetrapods (mammals + birds + reptiles + amphibians). Like ''Archaeopteryx'', ''Ichthyostega'' has been mentioned as a "missing link" between two main animal classes (fish-amphibians in this case), and like the "ur-bird" and the "ur-horses", portrayed as an icon of Evolution. However, since the 1990s new intermediate forms between fish and land animals have been found; ''Tiktaalik'' is just one example (see the Fish section). Like many other basal tetrapods ''Ichthyostega'' was a big animal, 5 ft long and weighing like a adult human. This "half-fish / half-amphibian" was one of the first animals that developed true limbs, already similar to modern animals except for one thing: it had ''seven'' digits for each foot (later vertebrates have no more than five). Its body plan, however, had still several fishy traits: streamlined body, fish-like scales, and a powerful tail with a ''fin'' on its top. Even though most portraits show it crawling on dry land, today scientists think ''Ichthyostega'' lived mainly in water, and [[ScienceMarchesOn recently-made researches]] suggest its limbs were ''not'' used for walking on dry soils but only on the bottom of lakes and rivers. In ''Walking With Monsters'' its close relative ''Hynerpeton'' is shown in the traditional mainly-terrestrial way, but also with many unlikely traits typical of MODERN amphibians - like frogs, it has loud voice, naked skin, and lays eggs just the same shape of the frogs' ones.

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* ''Ichthyostega'' has been one of the most iconic paleo-amphibians. Found in Greenland, [[note]] HilariousInHindsight, during most the prehistory Greenland was ''really'' a Green Land covered with forests; the ice cap formed only 30 million years ago in the Cenozoic. [[/note]], it lived before all the animals above, in the Devonian Period. It has been considered the "very first land vertebrate" for about a century, and the common ancestor of all tetrapods (mammals + birds + reptiles + amphibians). Like ''Archaeopteryx'', ''Ichthyostega'' has been mentioned as a "missing link" between two main animal classes (fish-amphibians in this case), and like the "ur-bird" and the "ur-horses", portrayed as an icon of Evolution. However, since the 1990s new intermediate forms between fish and land animals have been found; ''Tiktaalik'' is just one example (see the Fish section). Like many other basal tetrapods ''Ichthyostega'' was a big animal, 5 ft long and weighing like a adult human. This "half-fish / half-amphibian" was one of the first animals that developed true limbs, already similar to modern animals except for one thing: it had ''seven'' digits for each foot (later vertebrates have no more than five). Its body plan, however, had still several fishy traits: streamlined body, fish-like scales, and a powerful tail with a ''fin'' on its top. Even though most portraits show it crawling on dry land, today scientists think ''Ichthyostega'' lived mainly in water, and [[ScienceMarchesOn recently-made researches]] suggest its limbs were ''not'' used for walking on dry soils but only on the bottom of lakes and rivers. In ''Walking With Monsters'' ''Series/WalkingWithMonsters'' its close relative ''Hynerpeton'' is shown in the traditional mainly-terrestrial way, but also with many unlikely traits typical of MODERN amphibians - like frogs, it has loud voice, naked skin, and lays eggs just the same shape of the frogs' ones.



* Even though more closely related with US than with true fish, lungfish and coelacanths were less close to terrestrial vertebrates than some fossil lobefins, the basal tetrapodomorphs (called "rhipidists" in older sources). Among them, there was the common ancestor of all tetrapods aka land vertebrates, but we don't know which was really ''the'' ancestor. The traditionally most cited is ''Eusthenopteron''. Its shape recalled a bit that of the famous ur-amphibian ''Ichthyostega'', but smaller (60 cm), with fleshy paired fins instead of true legs, classically fishy dorsal and anal fins, and a curious three-lobed caudal fin reminiscent of Poseidon's trident. Its lifestyle was probably like a lungfish's, and was also able to breath air with primitive lungs and get occasionally out of water to escape drought. Its almost-identical relative ''Hyneria'' was much bigger (3-4 m long), and [[BiggerIsBetter because of its size]] was chosen by ''Walking With Monsters'' producers instead of ''Eusthenopteron'' as the representative of Sarcopterygii (and it was oversized). However, it is shown only to give a predator to the early tetrapod ''Hynerpeton'', and with no mention at all about its role as one of the tetrapods' forerunners (in effect it was eating its descendant). In the 2000s some new animals were discovered, which appear evolutionarily in the middle between a ''Eusthenopteron'' and an ''Ichthyostega'': an excellent example is ''Tiktaalik''.

to:

* Even though more closely related with US than with true fish, lungfish and coelacanths were less close to terrestrial vertebrates than some fossil lobefins, the basal tetrapodomorphs (called "rhipidists" in older sources). Among them, there was the common ancestor of all tetrapods aka land vertebrates, but we don't know which was really ''the'' ancestor. The traditionally most cited is ''Eusthenopteron''. Its shape recalled a bit that of the famous ur-amphibian ''Ichthyostega'', but smaller (60 cm), with fleshy paired fins instead of true legs, classically fishy dorsal and anal fins, and a curious three-lobed caudal fin reminiscent of Poseidon's trident. Its lifestyle was probably like a lungfish's, and was also able to breath air with primitive lungs and get occasionally out of water to escape drought. Its almost-identical relative ''Hyneria'' was much bigger (3-4 m long), and [[BiggerIsBetter because of its size]] was chosen by ''Walking With Monsters'' ''Series/WalkingWithMonsters'' producers instead of ''Eusthenopteron'' as the representative of Sarcopterygii (and it was oversized). However, it is shown only to give a predator to the early tetrapod ''Hynerpeton'', and with no mention at all about its role as one of the tetrapods' forerunners (in effect it was eating its descendant). In the 2000s some new animals were discovered, which appear evolutionarily in the middle between a ''Eusthenopteron'' and an ''Ichthyostega'': an excellent example is ''Tiktaalik''.



* However, ostracoderms were ''not'' the most primitive fish; they were already very evolved animals, with complex brains, fins, and keen senses (''Cephalaspis'' seemingly shows even electric sensors!) Their anatomy is unusually well-known because the inner portion of their head shows the prints of the brain, nerves, inner ear, and other soft tissues. [[note]]Ostracoderms and the other jawless fish shared a curious anatomical trait: one single nostril on their head (all jawed vertebrates share two paired nasal openings like us humans).[[/note]] Actually ostracoderms descended from unarmoured fish, among them the very first fish appeared. Sadly, as soft tissue don't usually fossilize, they are virtually unknown by science. One exception is ''Haikouichthys'' from the Cambrian period, similar to the famous invertebrate lancelet, or also to the larval stage of the modern lamprey (the so-called ammocoetes). It was a tiny animal the size of a human nail, and was probably a harmless filter feeder. Incredibly, ''Walking With Monsters'' managed to transform even this unconspicuous critter in a "terror": here, a shoal of ''Haikouichthys'' is seen feeding on the flesh of a wounded ''Anomalocaris'' like modern lampreys and hagfish would do. Actually, lampreys and hagfish (aka the cyclostomates) are very evolved parasitic animals capable to feed on large items despite their lacking of jaws; their evolution is very poorly known. Finally, we could not forget the enigmatic conodonts. These tiny fossils similar to toothed jaws (conodont means "cone tooth") have been a real headache for scientists (invertebrates? early vertebrates? worms?). Today we know they belonged to early jawless fishes that lived during the whole Paleozoic, but their lifestyle is still uncertain; maybe they were the ancestors of the lampreys.

to:

* However, ostracoderms were ''not'' the most primitive fish; they were already very evolved animals, with complex brains, fins, and keen senses (''Cephalaspis'' seemingly shows even electric sensors!) Their anatomy is unusually well-known because the inner portion of their head shows the prints of the brain, nerves, inner ear, and other soft tissues. [[note]]Ostracoderms and the other jawless fish shared a curious anatomical trait: one single nostril on their head (all jawed vertebrates share two paired nasal openings like us humans).[[/note]] Actually ostracoderms descended from unarmoured fish, among them the very first fish appeared. Sadly, as soft tissue don't usually fossilize, they are virtually unknown by science. One exception is ''Haikouichthys'' from the Cambrian period, similar to the famous invertebrate lancelet, or also to the larval stage of the modern lamprey (the so-called ammocoetes). It was a tiny animal the size of a human nail, and was probably a harmless filter feeder. Incredibly, ''Walking With Monsters'' ''Series/WalkingWithMonsters'' managed to transform even this unconspicuous critter in a "terror": here, a shoal of ''Haikouichthys'' is seen feeding on the flesh of a wounded ''Anomalocaris'' like modern lampreys and hagfish would do. Actually, lampreys and hagfish (aka the cyclostomates) are very evolved parasitic animals capable to feed on large items despite their lacking of jaws; their evolution is very poorly known. Finally, we could not forget the enigmatic conodonts. These tiny fossils similar to toothed jaws (conodont means "cone tooth") have been a real headache for scientists (invertebrates? early vertebrates? worms?). Today we know they belonged to early jawless fishes that lived during the whole Paleozoic, but their lifestyle is still uncertain; maybe they were the ancestors of the lampreys.



* When talking about evolution, the superpredators are usually described as a sort of BigBad guys that try to destroy our distant ancestors, almost as their precise purpose was to delete Man's modern presence on Earth. Just see ''[[Series/WalkingWithDinosaurs Walking With Monsters]]'' for an {{egregious}} example. When the portrayals are about Mesozoic life this treatment is typically reserved to dinosaurs (see [[UsefulNotes/PrehistoricLifeNonDinosaurianReptiles The origin of Mammals]]); in Paleozoic settings, however, the classic choice has been the eurypterids (also called Gigantostracians), better known as the [[BigCreepyCrawlies sea scorpions]]. They were indeed related with modern scorpions (and maybe their ancestors), but technically they ''were not'' scorpions. They hadn't the venomous sting, and resembled more slender lobsters than scorpions. Their had big composed eyes like insects, scorpion-like pincers, and their rear pair of legs were flattened and used to swim; they arguably lived both in the bottom and in open waters. We don't know if they came on land to lay their eggs. Eurypterids were active predators, and the biggest ones were among the apex predators especially in the Silurian period; in the following Devonian they were outcompeted by jawed fish like ''Dunkleosteus'', but managed nonetheless to survive until the Permian. ''Pterygotus'' was one of the biggest eurypterids (the length of a human), and one of the biggest arthropods of all times along with the extinct millipede ''Arthropleura'' and the modern Giant Japanese Crab. ''Pterygotus'' is the sea scorpion traditionally most portrayed in media, [[BiggerIsBetter because of its size]] of course. Ironically, however, its even larger (and more freaky-looking) cousin, ''Jaekelopterus'', the largest arthropod ever, never appeared in media.

to:

* When talking about evolution, the superpredators are usually described as a sort of BigBad guys that try to destroy our distant ancestors, almost as their precise purpose was to delete Man's modern presence on Earth. Just see ''[[Series/WalkingWithDinosaurs Walking With Monsters]]'' ''Series/WalkingWithMonsters'' for an {{egregious}} example. When the portrayals are about Mesozoic life this treatment is typically reserved to dinosaurs (see [[UsefulNotes/PrehistoricLifeNonDinosaurianReptiles The origin of Mammals]]); in Paleozoic settings, however, the classic choice has been the eurypterids (also called Gigantostracians), better known as the [[BigCreepyCrawlies sea scorpions]]. They were indeed related with modern scorpions (and maybe their ancestors), but technically they ''were not'' scorpions. They hadn't the venomous sting, and resembled more slender lobsters than scorpions. Their had big composed eyes like insects, scorpion-like pincers, and their rear pair of legs were flattened and used to swim; they arguably lived both in the bottom and in open waters. We don't know if they came on land to lay their eggs. Eurypterids were active predators, and the biggest ones were among the apex predators especially in the Silurian period; in the following Devonian they were outcompeted by jawed fish like ''Dunkleosteus'', but managed nonetheless to survive until the Permian. ''Pterygotus'' was one of the biggest eurypterids (the length of a human), and one of the biggest arthropods of all times along with the extinct millipede ''Arthropleura'' and the modern Giant Japanese Crab. ''Pterygotus'' is the sea scorpion traditionally most portrayed in media, [[BiggerIsBetter because of its size]] of course. Ironically, however, its even larger (and more freaky-looking) cousin, ''Jaekelopterus'', the largest arthropod ever, never appeared in media.



* Within the evolution of animal life, it is universally agreed that arthropods and vertebrates have been the two animal groups which reached the best results. Cephalopod molluscs, too, are very complex creatures; but they ''never'' managed to come on land. Arthropods and vertebrates did that, but it was the former which made the first step on dry land, in the Silurian period. Vertebrates joined them only later in the Devonian. Even when out of the liquid element arthropods and vertebrates have continued to co-exist and to co-evolve, and this competition has made both more and more perfected. It's actually meaningless saying arthropods have been the vertebrates' worst enemies, and that the latter had to fight a "war" against spider-scorpions-insects (as said in the preface of ''[[Series/WalkingWithDinosaurs Monsters]]''); indeed, arthropods have unwillingly ''helped'' us vertebrates to became those successful beings we are. Among the very first land arthropods were the first TRUE scorpions and the first myriapods (millipedes and centipedes). Critters such as ''Palaeophonus'' were already identical to a modern scorpion; the same about the earliest myriapods. Spiders appeared a bit later, in the Carboniferous (ex. ''Arthrolycosa''); the first non-insect hexapods (hexapod = six legs) evolved in the Devonian (''Rhyniella''), but the first winged TRUE insects took their first flight in the Carboniferous forests: they were the very first flying animals ever, and the ''only'' flyers until pterosaurs made their appearance in the Triassic, followed by birds and finally bats. In the Carboniferous, land arthropods became often huge; two in particular have become a staple in paleo-books and documentaries: ''Arthropleura'' and ''Meganeura'' (see below). They have even made some appearances in fiction, too. [[note]]Curiously, the more impressive giant millipede ''Arthropleura'' has entered Fictionland only recently, while the giant dragonfly Meganeura can be also seen in older fictional works. [[/note]] ''Walking With'' has also popularized other critters: the huge true scorpion ''Brontoscorpio'', the alleged giant spider ''Megarachne'' (it was actually an eurypterid) and the awe-inspiring giant ants seen in ''Beasts''. All, more or less, affected by RuleOfCool in the show.

to:

* Within the evolution of animal life, it is universally agreed that arthropods and vertebrates have been the two animal groups which reached the best results. Cephalopod molluscs, too, are very complex creatures; but they ''never'' managed to come on land. Arthropods and vertebrates did that, but it was the former which made the first step on dry land, in the Silurian period. Vertebrates joined them only later in the Devonian. Even when out of the liquid element arthropods and vertebrates have continued to co-exist and to co-evolve, and this competition has made both more and more perfected. It's actually meaningless saying arthropods have been the vertebrates' worst enemies, and that the latter had to fight a "war" against spider-scorpions-insects (as said in the preface of ''[[Series/WalkingWithDinosaurs ''[[Series/WalkingWithMonsters Monsters]]''); indeed, arthropods have unwillingly ''helped'' us vertebrates to became those successful beings we are. Among the very first land arthropods were the first TRUE scorpions and the first myriapods (millipedes and centipedes). Critters such as ''Palaeophonus'' were already identical to a modern scorpion; the same about the earliest myriapods. Spiders appeared a bit later, in the Carboniferous (ex. ''Arthrolycosa''); the first non-insect hexapods (hexapod = six legs) evolved in the Devonian (''Rhyniella''), but the first winged TRUE insects took their first flight in the Carboniferous forests: they were the very first flying animals ever, and the ''only'' flyers until pterosaurs made their appearance in the Triassic, followed by birds and finally bats. In the Carboniferous, land arthropods became often huge; two in particular have become a staple in paleo-books and documentaries: ''Arthropleura'' and ''Meganeura'' (see below). They have even made some appearances in fiction, too. [[note]]Curiously, the more impressive giant millipede ''Arthropleura'' has entered Fictionland only recently, while the giant dragonfly Meganeura can be also seen in older fictional works. [[/note]] ''Walking With'' has also popularized other critters: the huge true scorpion ''Brontoscorpio'', the alleged giant spider ''Megarachne'' (it was actually an eurypterid) and the awe-inspiring giant ants seen in ''Beasts''. All, more or less, affected by RuleOfCool in the show.



But wait... have you see these critters in TV at least once? A hard thing, even if you watched [[Series/WalkingWithDinosaurs Walking With Monsters]]. In this RuleOfCool-filled show, the ''only real'' Cambrian invertebrate to appear is... Guess what? Well, the superpredator ''Anomalocaris'' of course! The other two invertebrate guys shown up are... a modern jellyfish and an [[AnachronismStew anachronistical phacopid trilobite]] - remember that phacopids first evolved in the Ordovician, while Cambrian trilobites looked very differently to the classic image we have when thinking about these animals. The absence of such awesome animals like ''Opabinia'' and ''Hallucigenia'' makes another egregious example of a missed opportunity.

to:

But wait... have you see these critters in TV at least once? A hard thing, even if you watched [[Series/WalkingWithDinosaurs Walking With Monsters]].''Series/WalkingWithMonsters''. In this RuleOfCool-filled show, the ''only real'' Cambrian invertebrate to appear is... Guess what? Well, the superpredator ''Anomalocaris'' of course! The other two invertebrate guys shown up are... a modern jellyfish and an [[AnachronismStew anachronistical phacopid trilobite]] - remember that phacopids first evolved in the Ordovician, while Cambrian trilobites looked very differently to the classic image we have when thinking about these animals. The absence of such awesome animals like ''Opabinia'' and ''Hallucigenia'' makes another egregious example of a missed opportunity.
12th May '17 6:59:13 PM chasemaddigan
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However, modern scientists do not accept such an unfairly "racistic" distinction. Furthermore, "lower animals" often show biological traits and behaviours traditionally considered typical of mammals and birds: social attitudes, parental care, intelligence, even some "warm-blood" abilities. On the other hand, in popular media they may be treated as stupid/unfeeling brutes even to this day. Documentaries not excluded: within the ''[[WalkingWithDinosaurs Walking With]]'' series, for example, ''Walking With Dinosaurs'' and ''Walking With Beasts'' show dinosaurs and mammals as smart/social/caring creatures, while the meaningfully-named ''Walking With [[PrehistoricMonster Monsters]]'' and ''[[SeaMonster Sea Monsters]]'' focus mainly to non-dino reptiles and to all the animal groups listed below, with only animals with bones shown as being smart/social/caring (YouFailBiologyForever).

to:

However, modern scientists do not accept such an unfairly "racistic" distinction. Furthermore, "lower animals" often show biological traits and behaviours traditionally considered typical of mammals and birds: social attitudes, parental care, intelligence, even some "warm-blood" abilities. On the other hand, in popular media they may be treated as stupid/unfeeling brutes even to this day. Documentaries not excluded: within the ''[[WalkingWithDinosaurs ''[[Series/WalkingWithDinosaurs Walking With]]'' series, for example, ''Walking With Dinosaurs'' ''Series/WalkingWithDinosaurs'' and ''Walking With Beasts'' ''Series/WalkingWithBeasts'' show dinosaurs and mammals as smart/social/caring creatures, while the meaningfully-named ''Walking With [[PrehistoricMonster Monsters]]'' and ''[[SeaMonster Sea Monsters]]'' focus mainly to non-dino reptiles and to all the animal groups listed below, with only animals with bones shown as being smart/social/caring (YouFailBiologyForever).
2nd Nov '16 12:10:55 PM MagnusForce
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* When talking about evolution, the superpredators are usually described as a sort of BigBad guys that try to destroy our distant ancestors, almost as their precise purpose was to delete Man's modern presence on Earth. Just see ''[[Series/WalkingWithDinosaurs Walking With Monsters]]'' for an egregious example. When the portrayals are about Mesozoic life this treatment is typically reserved to dinosaurs (see [[UsefulNotes/PrehistoricLifeNonDinosaurianReptiles The origin of Mammals]]); in Paleozoic settings, however, the classic choice has been the eurypterids (also called Gigantostracians), better known as the [[BigCreepyCrawlies sea scorpions]]. They were indeed related with modern scorpions (and maybe their ancestors), but technically they ''were not'' scorpions. They hadn't the venomous sting, and resembled more slender lobsters than scorpions. Their had big composed eyes like insects, scorpion-like pincers, and their rear pair of legs were flattened and used to swim; they arguably lived both in the bottom and in open waters. We don't know if they came on land to lay their eggs. Eurypterids were active predators, and the biggest ones were among the apex predators especially in the Silurian period; in the following Devonian they were outcompeted by jawed fish like ''Dunkleosteus'', but managed nonetheless to survive until the Permian. ''Pterygotus'' was one of the biggest eurypterids (the length of a human), and one of the biggest arthropods of all times along with the extinct millipede ''Arthropleura'' and the modern Giant Japanese Crab. ''Pterygotus'' is the sea scorpion traditionally most portrayed in media, [[BiggerIsBetter because of its size]] of course. Ironically, however, its even larger (and more freaky-looking) cousin, ''Jaekelopterus'', the largest arthropod ever, never appeared in media.

to:

* When talking about evolution, the superpredators are usually described as a sort of BigBad guys that try to destroy our distant ancestors, almost as their precise purpose was to delete Man's modern presence on Earth. Just see ''[[Series/WalkingWithDinosaurs Walking With Monsters]]'' for an egregious {{egregious}} example. When the portrayals are about Mesozoic life this treatment is typically reserved to dinosaurs (see [[UsefulNotes/PrehistoricLifeNonDinosaurianReptiles The origin of Mammals]]); in Paleozoic settings, however, the classic choice has been the eurypterids (also called Gigantostracians), better known as the [[BigCreepyCrawlies sea scorpions]]. They were indeed related with modern scorpions (and maybe their ancestors), but technically they ''were not'' scorpions. They hadn't the venomous sting, and resembled more slender lobsters than scorpions. Their had big composed eyes like insects, scorpion-like pincers, and their rear pair of legs were flattened and used to swim; they arguably lived both in the bottom and in open waters. We don't know if they came on land to lay their eggs. Eurypterids were active predators, and the biggest ones were among the apex predators especially in the Silurian period; in the following Devonian they were outcompeted by jawed fish like ''Dunkleosteus'', but managed nonetheless to survive until the Permian. ''Pterygotus'' was one of the biggest eurypterids (the length of a human), and one of the biggest arthropods of all times along with the extinct millipede ''Arthropleura'' and the modern Giant Japanese Crab. ''Pterygotus'' is the sea scorpion traditionally most portrayed in media, [[BiggerIsBetter because of its size]] of course. Ironically, however, its even larger (and more freaky-looking) cousin, ''Jaekelopterus'', the largest arthropod ever, never appeared in media.
30th Oct '16 7:09:55 PM MagnusForce
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* What ''was'' this thing? Found in 1966, and very common in the Carboniferous Mazon Creek Beds of Illinois, it looked like nothing paleontologists had ever seen before. It had a jaw like a crab claw,the body plan of a cuttlefish, and two weird stalked lumps on both sides of its body. The only thing anyone could classify this as was as an invertebrate, probably some kind of worm.

[[ScienceMarchesOn Until 2016]].

to:

* What ''was'' this thing? Found in 1966, and very common in the Carboniferous Mazon Creek Beds of Illinois, it looked like nothing paleontologists had ever seen before. It had a jaw like a crab claw,the body plan of a cuttlefish, and two weird stalked lumps on both sides of its body. The only thing anyone could classify this as was as an invertebrate, probably some kind of worm.

worm.\\
[[ScienceMarchesOn Until 2016]].
2016]].\\
21st Oct '16 5:08:09 PM Berrenta
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But wait... have you see these critters in TV at least once? A hard thing, even if you watched [[Series/WalkingWithDinosaurs Walking With Monsters]]. In this RuleOfCool-filled show, the ''only real'' Cambrian invertebrate to appear is... Guess what? Well, the superpredator ''Anomalocaris'' of course! The other two invertebrate guys shown up are... [[TheyJustDidntCare a modern jellyfish]] and an [[AnachronismStew anachronistical phacopid trilobite]] - remember that phacopids first evolved in the Ordovician, while Cambrian trilobites looked very differently to the classic image we have when thinking about these animals. The absence of such awesome animals like ''Opabinia'' and ''Hallucigenia'' makes another egregious example of a missed opportunity.

to:

But wait... have you see these critters in TV at least once? A hard thing, even if you watched [[Series/WalkingWithDinosaurs Walking With Monsters]]. In this RuleOfCool-filled show, the ''only real'' Cambrian invertebrate to appear is... Guess what? Well, the superpredator ''Anomalocaris'' of course! The other two invertebrate guys shown up are... [[TheyJustDidntCare a modern jellyfish]] jellyfish and an [[AnachronismStew anachronistical phacopid trilobite]] - remember that phacopids first evolved in the Ordovician, while Cambrian trilobites looked very differently to the classic image we have when thinking about these animals. The absence of such awesome animals like ''Opabinia'' and ''Hallucigenia'' makes another egregious example of a missed opportunity.
8th Oct '16 10:48:35 PM DustSnitch
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* Welcome to the Aspis family. Most "ostracoderms" ("shelled skin") have this suffix. Despite this, they ''don't'' make a real fish group: every armored fish devoid of jaws is traditionally called with this name, but they are actually distinct lineages, some closer to jawed fish than to other ostracoderms. Compared with placoderms, ostracoderms' armor was more complete, covering the whole body, and formed a true shell at the head level. Despite their {{Badass}} look they were very harmless creatures; their size was from a thumbnail up to a human hand, and with their tiny mouths they could only have feed on tiny food items like algae, small invertebrates, etc... They often fell victim to predators like the sea scorpions, cephalopods and jawed fish that were strong enough to go through their thick armored skin. One successful ostracoderm lineage is the osteostracans, whose prototype is the flat-headed ''Cephalaspis''. Another is the anaspids, more streamlined and with a lighter armor. The heterostracans had long snouts; ''Pteraspis'' is their prototype. Finally, the thelodonts, which where the most closely related with jawed fish (and maybe their ancestors).

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* Welcome to the Aspis family. Most "ostracoderms" ("shelled skin") have this suffix. Despite this, they ''don't'' make a real fish group: every armored fish devoid of jaws is traditionally called with this name, but they are actually distinct lineages, some closer to jawed fish than to other ostracoderms. Compared with placoderms, ostracoderms' armor was more complete, covering the whole body, and formed a true shell at the head level. Despite their {{Badass}} badass look they were very harmless creatures; their size was from a thumbnail up to a human hand, and with their tiny mouths they could only have feed on tiny food items like algae, small invertebrates, etc... They often fell victim to predators like the sea scorpions, cephalopods and jawed fish that were strong enough to go through their thick armored skin. One successful ostracoderm lineage is the osteostracans, whose prototype is the flat-headed ''Cephalaspis''. Another is the anaspids, more streamlined and with a lighter armor. The heterostracans had long snouts; ''Pteraspis'' is their prototype. Finally, the thelodonts, which where the most closely related with jawed fish (and maybe their ancestors).
9th Sep '16 9:10:23 AM TrollMan
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Ram's Shell: [[https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ammonoidea Ammonites]]

* The most abundant fossil cephalopods, so common they are used as index fossils after the disappearance of trilobites. They existed from the Devonian all the way to the end of the Cretaceous and existed in countless thousands of species. They are so named for their coiled shells similar to modern nautilus, which were said to resemble the coiled ram horns of the Egyptian god Amun. That being said, many ammonites didn't have a coiled shell, some had partially uncoiled shells, some had trumpet-shaped shells, some had weird paperclip-shaped shells, some had completely straight shells, some had turd-shaped shells, and some just had indiscriminately-shaped bunched up shells that made them look like the star-spawn of Cthulhu. Ammonites ranged in size from a few centimetres in diameter to ''Parapuzosia seppenradensis'', which could have reached eleven feet in diameter and over three thousand pounds in weight. Despite being so common and well documented, knowledge of their lifestyle and anatomy is pathetically poor, as they lack hard-parts otherwise and therefore rarely fossilize with the exception of their shells. When they died out at the end of the Mesozoic, their extinction caused a dramatic increase in fish species.
2nd Sep '16 11:08:46 PM TrollMan
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No other animal group has had a greater importance in paleontology than molluscs. Their fossils are extremely abundant, to the point that many rocky formations are mainly made of cemented mollusc shells. Among molluscs cephalopods deserve a mention apart, being much more evolved than the others. Together with arthropods, cephalopods are the extinct invertebrates you have more chances to see in media - at least, the documentary ones: you hardly can see a trilobite, an ammonite or a sea scorpion in Fictionland. If it happens, it would be a simple cameo, and good luck if the animal is mentioned.

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No other animal group has had a greater importance in paleontology than molluscs. Their fossils are extremely abundant, to the point that many rocky formations are mainly made of cemented mollusc shells. Among molluscs cephalopods deserve a mention apart, being much more evolved "evolved" than the others. Together with arthropods, cephalopods are the extinct invertebrates you have more chances to see in media - at least, the documentary ones: you hardly can see a trilobite, an ammonite or a sea scorpion in Fictionland. If it happens, it would be a simple cameo, and good luck if the animal is mentioned.
mentioned.

Ram's Shell: [[https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ammonoidea Ammonites]]

* The most abundant fossil cephalopods, so common they are used as index fossils after the disappearance of trilobites. They existed from the Devonian all the way to the end of the Cretaceous and existed in countless thousands of species. They are so named for their coiled shells similar to modern nautilus, which were said to resemble the coiled ram horns of the Egyptian god Amun. That being said, many ammonites didn't have a coiled shell, some had partially uncoiled shells, some had trumpet-shaped shells, some had weird paperclip-shaped shells, some had completely straight shells, some had turd-shaped shells, and some just had indiscriminately-shaped bunched up shells that made them look like the star-spawn of Cthulhu. Ammonites ranged in size from a few centimetres in diameter to ''Parapuzosia seppenradensis'', which could have reached eleven feet in diameter and over three thousand pounds in weight. Despite being so common and well documented, knowledge of their lifestyle and anatomy is pathetically poor, as they lack hard-parts otherwise and therefore rarely fossilize with the exception of their shells. When they died out at the end of the Mesozoic, their extinction caused a dramatic increase in fish species.






15th Jul '16 5:36:05 PM CJCroen1393
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Shark tales 3: The [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Megalodon Megalodon]] shark

* It's usually accepted that the biggest / most spectacular prehistoric animals lived in the Dinosaur Age: well, sharks are a notable exception. The biggest known predatory shark ever lived ''just a few million years ago'', at the time of the first hominids! [[RuleOfCool Obviously]], this animal is often shown in documentary media: for example, its open jaws are often depicted with [[ThreateningShark some people inside]] to show how immense they are. Recently, this animal has fascinated even the Fiction World, to the point {{Megalodon}} has become a trope on its own. But wait: Megalodon (literally "big tooth") is ''not'' the name of its genus: it's that of its species. The full scientific name is ''Carcharodon megalodon'' or ''Carcharocles megalodon''. [[note]] If it was an extremely close relative of the great white shark (''Carcharodon carcharias''), the correct name is ''Carcharodon''; if not, is ''Carcharocles''. [[/note]]. Like the most impressive extinct beasts, the megalodon is often victim of sensationalism. Some sources describe it 30 m long, like a blue whale; actually it was only slightly over half this length. Still, it remains the biggest known fish and largest and most successful (with a tenure of 20 million years, when most last just one) apex predator ever. It could have been a specialist whale hunter, and its bite marks have been found in whale skeletons: but could also have fed on smaller prey, too. We don't know why it went extinct; maybe because of climatic changes that deprived it of its main food source, in particular the closing of the Central American Seaway, which was an important hunting and migration area. One final note about Megalodon; it was so successful it held back the evolution of whales, which underwent a third explosion in diversity right after its extinction (therefore, the theory orcas outcompeted the shark is highly unlikely).



Tough guys 2: ''[[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dunkleosteus Dunkleosteus]]'' (once called "Dinichthys")

* Most placoderms were small. But ''Dunkleosteus'' makes a ''real'' exception. 30 ft long, the size of an orca it was only outmatched by its larger but gentler cousin ''Titanichthys'' and an obscure chimera known as ''Parahelicoprion'' for the title of largest animal in the Paleozoic. It was the same shape of the ''Coccosteus'' above, with the same kind of armor and the same strange scissor-like teeth. It was evidently the top predator of its time (Devonian), able to chop up even the toughest preys. In older sources it is called ''Dinichthys'' ("terrible fish"); the much less awesome name "Dunkleosteus" means "Dunkle's bone". Despite its impressiveness, ''Dunkleosteus'' has not gained much attention outside paleo books; in [[Series/WalkingWithDinosaurs Walking With Monsters]] it appears as one of the "[[PrehistoricMonster monsters]]" encountered by Nigel Marven during his time travel, and to fit better the role is portrayed [[RuleOfScary overscary]], with cat eyes, blood-red color, and unproven cannibalistic attitudes.

Tough guys 3: ''[[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cephalaspis Cephalaspis]]'', ''[[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pteraspis Pteraspis]]'', and the other "Ostracoderms"

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Tough guys 2: ''[[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dunkleosteus Dunkleosteus]]'' (once called "Dinichthys")

* Most placoderms were small. But ''Dunkleosteus'' makes a ''real'' exception. 30 ft long, the size of an orca it was only outmatched by its larger but gentler cousin ''Titanichthys'' and an obscure chimera known as ''Parahelicoprion'' for the title of largest animal in the Paleozoic. It was the same shape of the ''Coccosteus'' above, with the same kind of armor and the same strange scissor-like teeth. It was evidently the top predator of its time (Devonian), able to chop up even the toughest preys. In older sources it is called ''Dinichthys'' ("terrible fish"); the much less awesome name "Dunkleosteus" means "Dunkle's bone". Despite its impressiveness, ''Dunkleosteus'' has not gained much attention outside paleo books; in [[Series/WalkingWithDinosaurs Walking With Monsters]] it appears as one of the "[[PrehistoricMonster monsters]]" encountered by Nigel Marven during his time travel, and to fit better the role is portrayed [[RuleOfScary overscary]], with cat eyes, blood-red color, and unproven cannibalistic attitudes.

Tough guys 3: ''[[http://en.
wikipedia.org/wiki/Cephalaspis Cephalaspis]]'', ''[[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pteraspis Pteraspis]]'', and the other "Ostracoderms"



The first eyes: [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trilobite Trilobites]]

* Some things are more important than others. Trilobites are among them. Their [[http:/en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_trilobites extreme abundance]] in fossil record had made them index fossils: that is, Paleozoic terrains can be easily recognized ''just because'' they almost certainly contain at least one trilobite. As a group, trilobites lived in the whole Paleozoic era, but became rarer and rarer after the Devonian, and no one survived the Permian-Triassic mass extinction. Even though their appearance could make them confused with crustaceans, they were actually not related with any modern arthropod; they are classified in the middle between the two main arthropod groups: chelicerates (arachnids + sea spiders + horseshoe crabs) and mandibulates (hexapods + myriapods + crustaceans). "Trilobite" means "three lobes". Their body was divided in three portions: the head, the segmented thorax, and the telson (the scute at the rear-end of the body). But their flattened body also shows three portions in the longitudinal sense, the middle one and the two lateral. Like a millipede they had many pairs of legs (up to 100), one pair of antennae, and two usually large eyes similar to those of insects: trilobites were among the first creatures capable to see images. They mainly lived in the benthic zone; some were diggers, other active swimmers; some were able to curl themselves for protection. Most were not bigger than a human hand; the biggest were 3 ft long. Like the contemporary jawless fishes, trilobites only ate small items, and were prey for other arthropods, cephalopods, or jawed fish. We don't know if trilobites were totally aquatic or came to land to lay their eggs. Their young were identical to the adults. The kinds of trilobites commonly shown in media pertain usually to the Phacopida subgroup; good luck if you see an agnostid or a proetid trilobite.



Everything's better with Euras: ''[[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arthropleura Arthropleura]]'' and ''[[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Meganeura Meganeura]]''

* Why did land arthropods reach such a large size in the Carboniferous? [[note]]But don't forget most Carboniferous land arthropods were normal-sized; [[BiggerIsBetter obviously]], they don't gain much attention in media.[[/note]] Probably because the oxygen content at the time was much greater than every other period. The tracheal respiratory system of insects and land arthropods prevents them to reach big size: over a determined size, this system just doesn't work. The maximum an insect can reach depends also to the quantity of oxygen in the atmosphere; thus, more oxygen --> bigger size. The myriapod ''Arthropleura'' was the UpToEleven case: as long as a human, it is the the biggest known land arthropod of all times. But was an inoffensive herbivore that fed on the rotting vegetation extremely abundant in the Carboniferous forests. In truth, this "giant millipede" didn't even resemble a millipede. Wide and flattened, it resembled more a overly long trilobite. Actually there are modern millipedes that have the same body shape of ''Arthropleura'', though obviously much smaller. About ''Meganeura'', it was a griffinfly (basically a giant dragonfly relative); with a wingspan like a crow, it is the biggest known TRUE insect of all times (millipedes are NOT insects!), and a very powerful flyer like modern dragonflies. Unlike ''Arthropleura'', ''Meganeura'' was carnivorous and fed on smaller insects and maybe even small amphibians. Both animals got usually unattacked by the super predators of the time: the millipede's armor and the griffinfly's agility protected them against giant amphibians and fish.



Ammon's horns: [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ammonite Ammonites]]

* Is anyone that has never seen those spiral stony shells emerging from the surrounding rocks? Ammonites (technically the ammonoids) have always been among the most iconic fossil invertebrates, together with the trilobites. Like the latter, they have been used as index fossils, but for the Mesozoic era. Actually, some ammonites lived in the Paleozoic, but reached their prime in the Dinosaur Age. They went definitively extinct at the end of the Mesozoic, when the comet stroke. [[note]] Even though it resembles an ammonite, the extant nautilus is not an ammonite descendant. [[/note]] Despite the abundance of their shells, their soft bodies are rarely preserved and little known. Like octopuses and squid, they had certainly tentacles and the beak typical of cephalopods; but the number of tentacles is uncertain. Maybe they had more than 8-10 tentacles, more similarly to the nautilus (see below) than to a squid. It's unsure if their tentacles had suckers like octopuses and squid, or had not them like a nautilus. And we don't know if they sprayed ink, nor if they had complex eyes to see images like octopuses and squid. With their heavy shell, ammonites should have been slow swimmers; they were surely predators like every other cephalopod, but they probably caught only small prey. Their hard shell was an excellent protection against predators, as shown by some ammonites with marks of teeth left by an ichthyosaur or a mosasaur which tried to break their shell in vain. Though most ammonites were no bigger than a human hand, some reached the diameter of 2 m (still much smaller than a modern giant squid). In media, ammonites are always shown with the classic curly, laterally-flattened shell; however, the shells of some Cretaceous ammonites reached an unusual form.
17th Apr '16 7:41:37 AM geekgecko
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Added DiffLines:

A 50-year old mystery: ''[[https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tullimonstrum Tullimonstrum]]'', aka the "Tully Monster".
* What ''was'' this thing? Found in 1966, and very common in the Carboniferous Mazon Creek Beds of Illinois, it looked like nothing paleontologists had ever seen before. It had a jaw like a crab claw,the body plan of a cuttlefish, and two weird stalked lumps on both sides of its body. The only thing anyone could classify this as was as an invertebrate, probably some kind of worm.

[[ScienceMarchesOn Until 2016]].

A study by Yale University revealed the Tully Monster's true identity, and it was the least expected identity. They noticed the remains of a primitive notochord in the creature (meaning it was a vertebrate), and the weird lumps turned out to be eyestalks. Using these, and other parts of the fossil, they came to the conclusion that it was a ''jawless fish'', closely related to the lamprey.
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