It Looks Like We’ve Spotted the Earliest Known Case of Prehistoric Cannibalism

It Seems Like We’ve Noticed the Earliest Identified Case of Prehistoric Cannibalism

illustration of trilobites from paleozoic period underwater


  • New analysis printed within the journal Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology makes a powerful case for same-species cannibalism amongst trilobites.
  • Dubbed “Cambrian carnage” by researchers, the working principle is that Redlichia rex, an enormous trilobite species, was within the behavior of consuming its personal type.
  • If correct, this beats out the earlier report for the earliest identified cannibalism by round 5o million years.

    The world’s earliest identified case of cannibalism occurred over 500 million years in the past within the depths of the early oceans.

    At the very least, that’s what fossil proof has lately proven us. In accordance with new analysis, Redlichia rex, an enormous species of trilobite, was within the behavior of taking chunks out of one other trilobite species, Redlichia takooensis. However what’s stunning about this new discovery is that it seems R. rex additionally ate different members of its very personal species, partaking in some gnarly prehistoric cannibalism.

    Researchers got here to this conclusion after discovering what might greatest be described as “bites” on some R. rex specimens. Much like crabs, trilobites had a calcite shell that acted as their armor, and is what we usually see after we have a look at trilobite fossils. Whereas this difficult shell was meant to guard R. rex, it didn’t all the time cease different trilobites of the identical species from chomping on one another.

    The fossils that had been analyzed for this paper—printed earlier this month within the journal Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology—had been from the Emu Bay Shale on Australia’s Kangaroo Island. In whole, researchers studied 38 injured trilobite fossils that featured healed thoracic accidents. As a result of positioning of the accidents, the workforce theorized that maybe R. rex most popular to assault its prey from behind.

    The researchers additionally posited that some prey specimens could have offered the posterior portion of their trunks towards the predator after they felt threatened, or had been attempting to flee predation because of damage marks alongside their our bodies. Moreover, researchers have discovered fossilized excrement that additionally accommodates trilobite shells, strengthening the cannibalism principle (which, whereas robust, remains to be merely a principle).

    If the researchers are appropriate, although, this marks the earliest occasion of arthropod cannibalism we’ve seen but. Beforehand, it was thought that the primary occurrences of cannibalism occurred roughly 450 million years in the past within the Ordovician interval. And the researchers imagine that cannibalism probably occurred even earlier—we simply haven’t discovered proof within the fossil report to show it. At the very least, not but.

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