Fans of the great Cambrian predator, Anomalocaris, will be pleased to hear that a cousin lived at least until the Devonian, over 100 million years later. That makes this a fairly successful clade of great-appendage arthropods — a group characterized by a pair of very large and often spiky manipulatory/feeding arms located in front of the mouth. Here’s the new fellow, Schinderhannes bartelsi:
There are some significant differences between familiar old Anomalocaris and Schinderhannes. Anomalocaris was a monster that grew to about a meter long; this little guy is about a tenth of that, around 4 inches. He also has those interesting “wings” behind his head, which presumably aided in swimming.
Another significant feature of this animal is that it has characters that place it in the Euarthropoda, which makes great appendages paraphyletic and primitively present in euarthropods. Those great appendages have long been a curiousity, and we’ve wondered whether they are a unique innovation that was completely lost in modern arthropods, or whether they evolved into one of the other more familiar cephalic appendages; the authors suggest that this linkage with the euarthropod family tree implies that chelicera (what you may recognize as the big paired ‘fangs’ of spiders) are modified great appendages.
Kühl G, Briggs DEG, Rust J (2009) A Great-Appendage Arthropod with a Radial Mouth from the Lower Devonian HunsrÃ¼ck Slate, Germany. Science 323(5915):771-773.