History UsefulNotes / PrehistoricLifeOtherExtinctCreatures

12th Nov '17 12:13:59 PM Commander_Ysenir
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* Today, crustaceans are by far the most abundant water arthropods. Their prehistoric relatives were like the modern ones, and have always been an important group. However, in the Paleozoic another group of aquatic arthropods were even more diversified: the early chelicerates, more related with ''spiders'' than to crabs. The most spectacular water chelicerates were the so-called sea scorpions (see the following paragraph); the smaller xiphosurans were just as abundant. Like the coelacanth and the nautilus, they have classically been mentioned as "living fossils". Indeed, the modern ''Limulus'' (the horseshoe crab) is just the only surviving xiphosuran, and the only surviving aquatic chelicerate (except for the little-known sea spiders). All the other chelicerates became terrestrial, forming the arachnids (spiders, scorpions, mites and others). Xiphosura means "sword tail". Contrary to what is believed, the "sword" at the end of the horseshoe crab is not venomous or dangerous at all, is only a mechanical device to overturn again the animal when capsized. Many extinct xiphosurans were identical to our modern ''Limulus'', and probably behaved the same; our horseshoe crab lives mainly in the bottom of the seas like trilobites, feed only on small items, but comes ashore to lay its eggs. Curiously, its young are very similar to an adult trilobite.

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* Today, crustaceans are by far the most abundant water arthropods. Their prehistoric relatives were like the modern ones, and have always been an important group. However, in the Paleozoic another group of aquatic arthropods were even more diversified: the early chelicerates, more related with ''spiders'' than to crabs. The most spectacular water chelicerates were the so-called sea scorpions (see the following paragraph); the smaller xiphosurans were just as abundant. Like the coelacanth and the nautilus, they have classically been mentioned as "living fossils". Indeed, the modern ''Limulus'' (the horseshoe crab) is just the only surviving xiphosuran, and the only surviving aquatic chelicerate (except for the little-known sea spiders). All the other chelicerates became terrestrial, forming the arachnids (spiders, scorpions, mites and others). Xiphosura means "sword tail". Contrary to what is believed, the "sword" at the end of the horseshoe crab is not venomous or dangerous at all, all (you could probably lightly prick your foot if you step on it, but that's pretty much it), is only a mechanical device to overturn again the animal when capsized. Many extinct xiphosurans were identical to our modern ''Limulus'', and probably behaved the same; our horseshoe crab lives mainly in the bottom of the seas like trilobites, feed only on small items, but comes ashore to lay its eggs. Curiously, its young are very similar to an adult trilobite.
8th Aug '17 10:12:00 PM ElSquibbonator
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* Actinopterygians, aka "ray-finned fish" or "rayfins". Or, more simply, "the fish". They are by far the most common fish today (95% of all fish species!), but in the Dinosaur Age they were only one of the several fish groups roaming the seas and fresh waters. The most evolved rayfins, the teleosts, became widespread only in the Cretaceous. Almost all modern ray-finned fish are teleosts. However, most familiar teleosts appeared only after the K-Pg extinction, in the Age of Mammals. There were no goldfishes, swordfishes, seahorses, piranhas, ocean sunfishes or deep sea anglers in the Cretaceous (only herrings, tarpons, and a few others). However, non-teleost rayfins were already common in the Mesozoic, among them gars, sturgeons and their relatives. And then, there were things such as ''Leedsichthys'', a Jurassic fish with no modern relatives that was ''as big as a large whale'', maybe the largest fish of all times. [[note]] Maybe not bigger than a modern whale shark however, and with a toothless mouth which indicates an inoffensive filter-feeding attitude like the latter [[/note]] Another non-teleost fish was ''Lepidotes''. It was one of the most common fish, with more than 100 species that lived during the whole Mesozoic timespan. Similar to a carp, it was actually not related with any modern fish: its primitiveness is revealed by its heavy scales similar to an armor. These scales are sometimes found inside the rib cages of other animals, e.g. the fishing dinosaur ''[[StockDinosaurs Baryonyx]]''. Since the Cretaceous all these early forms have been outcompeted by teleosts, which were more agile thanks to their lighter scales. One of the most common was ''Leptolepis'', a sort of ancient herring. Perhaps the most famous Cretaceous rayfin is ''Xiphactinus'': also similar to a herring but with teeth, it was 5-6m long (like a great white shark), and a voracious predator in competition with the giant sea reptiles of the time. Along with sharks and mosasaurs, fishes like this could have contributed to bring the ichthyosaurs to their early extinction.

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* Actinopterygians, aka "ray-finned fish" or "rayfins". Or, more simply, "the fish". They are by far the most common fish today (95% of all fish species!), but in the Dinosaur Age they were only one of the several fish groups roaming the seas and fresh waters. The most evolved rayfins, the teleosts, became widespread only in the Cretaceous. Almost all modern ray-finned fish are teleosts. However, most familiar teleosts appeared only after the K-Pg extinction, in the Age of Mammals. There were no goldfishes, swordfishes, seahorses, piranhas, ocean sunfishes or deep sea anglers in the Cretaceous (only herrings, tarpons, and a few others). However, non-teleost rayfins were already common in the Mesozoic, among them gars, sturgeons and their relatives. And then, there were things such as ''Leedsichthys'', a Jurassic fish with no modern relatives that was ''as big as a large humpback whale'', maybe the largest fish of all times. [[note]] Maybe not bigger than a modern whale shark however, and with a toothless mouth which indicates an inoffensive filter-feeding attitude like the latter [[/note]] Another non-teleost fish was ''Lepidotes''. It was one of the most common fish, with more than 100 species that lived during the whole Mesozoic timespan. Similar to a carp, it was actually not related with any modern fish: its primitiveness is revealed by its heavy scales similar to an armor. These scales are sometimes found inside the rib cages of other animals, e.g. the fishing dinosaur ''[[StockDinosaurs Baryonyx]]''. Since the Cretaceous all these early forms have been outcompeted by teleosts, which were more agile thanks to their lighter scales. One of the most common was ''Leptolepis'', a sort of ancient herring. Perhaps the most famous Cretaceous rayfin is ''Xiphactinus'': also similar to a herring but with teeth, it was 5-6m long (like a great white shark), and a voracious predator in competition with the giant sea reptiles of the time. Along ''Xiphactinus'' is most famous for a fossil in which a 4m-long specimen was preserved [[BigEater with sharks and mosasaurs, fishes like this could have contributed to bring the ichthyosaurs to their early extinction.
a 2m-long fish in its gut.]]
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).

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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 ''[[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.

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* 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
Is there an issue? Send a Message


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).

to:

* 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.

to:

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.






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