The Case of the Circle-Saw Shark (or, the palaeontologists vs. the softies part I)

The Case of the Circle-Saw Shark (or, the palaeontologists vs. the softies part I)

One of the central problems of palaeontology is that hard parts of organisms are often very well preserved, soft parts not so well. Thus, shells and bones are common in the fossil record; skin, muscles and other soft tissues are not. Shark teeth, for instance, are really common. They’re very hard, and sharks continuously replace their teeth during their lives, so the fossil record is littered with them. Unfortunately, shark skeletons are made of cartilage, not bone. Cartilage does not fossilise wel, so the great, great majority of shark fossils are nothing but teeth. Continue reading “The Case of the Circle-Saw Shark (or, the palaeontologists vs. the softies part I)”

Weekly Fish – Choking Fish Syndrome (Fish Maws Part III)

Weekly Fish – Choking Fish Syndrome (Fish Maws Part III)

Fishes can be quite slippery. Slimy even. Grabbing hold of one can be rather challenging. There are exceptions of course, sharks for instance are famously unslippery (though one might be wary of grabbing a shark for reasons of personal safety). At any rate, fish-eating fishes have had to deal with the problem of slippery prey for ages, and have come up with two main solutions. The first is suction-feeding, where the predator creates negative pressure in its oral cavity to suck in and swallow its prey, thus avoiding the need to grab onto the slippery victim. The other is to use teeth. Lots and lots of teeth. Continue reading “Weekly Fish – Choking Fish Syndrome (Fish Maws Part III)”

A Shrimpy Trinity

A Shrimpy Trinity

The depths of our planet’s oceans have long provided a home to many a quirky critter. A particularly curious one is the odd shrimp, Anomalocaris, who struck fear in the hearts of its invertebrate contemporaries as it roamed the seas of the early Cambrian, some 530 million years ago. The story of how this monster got its (not particularly apt) name has been told before, but my blog’s title might be in need of some explanation, so a partial retelling seems appropriate. Continue reading “A Shrimpy Trinity”