New anatomical information on Anomalocaris from the Cambrian Emu Bay Shale of South Australia and a reassessment of its inferred predatory habits

Allison C. Daley*, John R. Paterson, Gregory D. Edgecombe, Diego C. García-Bellido, James B. Jago

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    74 Citations (Scopus)


    Two species of Anomalocaris co-occur in the Emu Bay Shale (Cambrian Series 2, Stage 4) at Big Gully, Kangaroo Island. Frontal appendages of Anomalocaris briggsi Nedin, 1995, are more common than those of Anomalocaris cf. canadensis Whiteaves, 1892, at a quarry inland of the wave-cut platform site from which these species were originally described. An oral cone has the three large, node-bearing plates recently documented for Anomalocaris canadensis, confirming that Anomalocaris lacks a tetraradial 'Peytoia' oral cone and strengthening the case for the identity of the Australian specimens as Anomalocaris. Disarticulated anomalocaridid body flaps are more numerous in the Emu Bay Shale than in other localities, and they preserve anatomical details not recognized elsewhere. Transverse lines on the anterior part of the flaps, interpreted as strengthening rays or veins in previous descriptions of anomalocaridids, are associated with internal structures consisting of a series of well-bounded, striated blocks or bars. Their structure is consistent with a structural function imparting strength to the body flaps. Setal structures consisting of a series of lanceolate blades are similar to those of other anomalocaridids and are found in isolation or associated with body flaps. A single specimen also preserves putative gut diverticula. The morphology of the appendages, oral cone, gut diverticula and compound eyes of Anomalocaris, along with its large size, suggests that it was an active predator, and specimens of coprolites containing trilobite fragments and trilobites with prominent injuries have been cited as evidence of anomalocaridid predation on trilobites. Based on frontal appendage morphology, Anomalocaris briggsi is inferred to have been a predator of soft-bodied animals exclusively and only Anomalocaris cf. canadensis may have been capable of durophagous predation on trilobites, although predation (including possible cannibalism) by Redlichia could also explain the coprolites and damage to trilobite exoskeletons found in the Emu Bay Shale.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)971-990
    Number of pages20
    Issue number5
    Publication statusPublished - Sept 2013


    • Anomalocaris briggsi
    • Bite marks
    • Coprolites
    • Predation
    • Radiodonta


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