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The weird and wonderful creatures of prehistory.

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posted on Oct, 6 2014 @ 10:08 AM
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Good epoch everyone, I hope that is was pleasant one for you and your loved ones.

When many of us think of the evolution of life on this planet, we think of the large bounds rather than the small steps. Dinosaurs to lizards, Primates to man, and so forth. But what about those minnows in the ocean of evolution that paved the way for life as we know it?

Today I hope to take you back to a time when life as we know it barely had a foothold, a time where life took on many bizarre forms. So without further ado I’d like you to say hello to my little friend:

Hallucigenia


This creature has an apt name to describe it's appearance-but this bizarre creature plays an important part in the history of life on earth for many reasons. For starters it's one of the first lifeforms to evolve what could be loosely described as limbs.


Based on the appearance of those initial fossil preparations, the first restoration made in 1977 presented us with an animal walking along the bottom of the seafloor on spiny stilts, waving seven dorsal tentacles from its back

Smithsonian

This creature has also proven to be a valuable asset to help scientists understand the evolution of life on this planet.


“The peculiar claws of Hallucigenia are a smoking gun that solves a long and heated debate in evolutionary biology,” said the paper’s lead author, Dr Martin Smith of the University of Cambridge.

“It’s often thought that modern animal groups arose fully formed during the Cambrian Explosion, But evolution is a gradual process: today’s complex anatomies emerged step by step, one feature at a time. By deciphering ‘in-between’ fossils like Hallucigenia, we can determine how different animal groups built up their modern body plans.”

Not to shabby for a critter that's half a billion years old, a mere 200 million years before dinosaurs roamed the earth. One small step for Hallucigenia..

Opanbinia


This fellow might look like something that haunts Sigourney Weaver in her dreams, but it's alien appearance serves a purpose, and it very well could be one of the earliest predators on earth.


The proboscis of Opabinia terminated in a pincer which had spines that pointed forwards and inwards on the inner sides of the claws.‭ ‬What this pincer was used on is difficult to say as it would have equally been able to grasp small soft bodied organisms as well as small chunks of organic matter.‭ ‬The low number of Opabinia specimens in relation to other species may point towards the latter carnivore theory.


Another interesting feature is that it could also have paved the way for the species that followed it- the big O could be an early form of an arthropod-a group of animals that include crabs and insects.


Opabinia is loosely defined as a lobopod in that its body was arranged in segments called‭ '‬lobes‭'‬.‭ ‬However while superficially similar to later creatures like trilobites,‭ ‬the lobes of Opabinia seem to have been soft,‭ ‬without the hard exoskeleton that later arthropods would possess.

prehistoric wildlife

Opanbinia also inhabited the oceans at the same time that Hallucigenia did, if these two ever clashed it would truly be a battle of the ages.

Prototaxites

Trees are vital to our existence-They gulp up carbon dioxide and give us oxygen in return, so it's not surprising that people want to give them a big old bear hug. But where did trees come from? If we turn back the clock 400 million years, we might find the answer.


Contradictions and puzzles surround the giant fossil Prototaxites. The fossils resemble tree trunks, and yet they are from a time before trees existed. The stable carbon isotope values are similar to those of fungi, but the fossils do not display structures usually found in fungi. Plant-like polymers have been found in the fossils, but nutritional evidence supports heterotrophy, which is not commonly found in plants.

Phys.org

The interesting fact is that Prototaxites could have been the catalyst that lead to the diversity of plant life that is found today. So the next time you water your garden, be sure to spare a thought for Prototaxites.

(continued in next post)





edit on 6-10-2014 by Thecakeisalie because: (no reason given)




posted on Oct, 6 2014 @ 10:17 AM
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a reply to: Thecakeisalie

(continued from previous post)

However I have saved the best for last. The final entry in this post may not have been as revolutionary as its predecessors but it certainly deserves a spot.

Quetzalcoatlus


When a creature's name is derived from an ancient god, you know that the creature is going to be epic.


This enormous pterosaur, or flying reptile, may have been the largest flying animal ever.

Its 12-metre wingspan would have enabled it to soar and glide over long distances, while its keen eyesight would have meant that it could locate food from high in the sky.

Recent evidence suggests that Quetzalcoatlus may have had feeding habits a bit like those of modern storks, combining scavenging for carrion, with preying on small animals, such as small dinosaurs.


Looking at the modern day avian predators, it makes you wonder how a behemoth of this size ever soared of the prehistoric landscape. But Quetzalcoatlus is just another page in the book of evolution, and that book is always expanding.

And so ends this journey into the past. My thanks go to the researchers and the artists who made this possible and I hope you enjoyed this thread.



posted on Oct, 6 2014 @ 10:27 AM
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off-topic post removed to prevent thread-drift


 



posted on Oct, 6 2014 @ 10:34 AM
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a reply to: Nechash

First word is "Deny"



posted on Oct, 6 2014 @ 10:38 AM
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a reply to: _Del_

lol. ok. Thanks.

VEJY DIJKPGJAE EJAKSPGIE AKHHKJ QEJQE
edit on 6-10-2014 by Nechash because: (no reason given)



posted on Oct, 6 2014 @ 11:00 AM
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a reply to: Nechash

Great work for cracking the code.

But this was a thread was about prehistory and had nothing to do with my John Hancock.



posted on Oct, 6 2014 @ 11:03 AM
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a reply to: Thecakeisalie

Thanks, you're amazing! *hugs* This is a world for creativity and has nothing to do with oppression or fear. = my new response to tyranny in all its myriad forms.
edit on 6-10-2014 by Nechash because: (no reason given)



posted on Oct, 6 2014 @ 11:12 AM
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a reply to: Nechash

I don't quite follow you. What are you referring to?



posted on Oct, 6 2014 @ 11:36 AM
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a reply to: Thecakeisalie

Just a lesson I derived from your example. You are such a good teacher, and it pleases me greatly. All the things of this world are a trap prepared to snap shut at any minute. It is amazing what a healthy dose of disbelief can do for you. ;p



posted on Oct, 6 2014 @ 12:03 PM
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originally posted by: Nechash
a reply to: Thecakeisalie

Just a lesson I derived from your example. You are such a good teacher, and it pleases me greatly. All the things of this world are a trap prepared to snap shut at any minute. It is amazing what a healthy dose of disbelief can do for you. ;p


I'm not sure to take that as a compliment or as sarcasm. Emoticons help.

All wanted to do is show people how life was back then. A simple 'that's cool' would have sufficed, the thread had nothing to do with my signature.



posted on Oct, 6 2014 @ 12:11 PM
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I feel bad that this thread has gone off on a tangent, and that I contributed somewhat.

That Opanbinia thing looks a lot like a giant isopod crossed with nightmares.

Very cool stuff. Love seeing topics like this on ATS.



posted on Oct, 6 2014 @ 12:19 PM
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a reply to: Thecakeisalie

I like the fact that the full name is Quetzalcoatlus Northropi in honor of Knudsen Northrop who founded Northop aerospace. They selected him due to his tailless aircraft that resembled the pterosaur.



posted on Oct, 6 2014 @ 12:20 PM
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originally posted by: Thecakeisalie
Quetzalcoatlus

Quetzalcoatlus looks like he's wearing a beret, making him look French, or a mime, or both (which is creepy).



posted on Oct, 6 2014 @ 12:24 PM
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originally posted by: Soylent Green Is People
Quetzalcoatlus looks like he's wearing a beret, making him look French, or a mime, or both (which is creepy).


It probably crapped itself when it saw Quetzalcoatlus Germanicus and spontaneously evolved into flightlessness.



posted on Oct, 6 2014 @ 01:55 PM
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originally posted by: _Del_
I feel bad that this thread has gone off on a tangent, and that I contributed somewhat. /quote]

Don't feel bad, you did nothing wrong.


edit on 6-10-2014 by Thecakeisalie because: (no reason given)



posted on Oct, 6 2014 @ 02:09 PM
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a reply to: Thecakeisalie

Oh, I know. I just felt bad that you had several replies in the thread and none of them (even mine) were on topic



posted on Oct, 6 2014 @ 10:01 PM
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a reply to: Thecakeisalie

I wouldn't mind that big fella flying around these days...i think humanaty needs a predator except themselves

I also suggest bringing back the Andrewsarchus:



posted on Oct, 6 2014 @ 10:06 PM
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a reply to: Thecakeisalie

Awesome work! Thanks for putting it together. Your effort has made this place better


I know everyone loves dinosaurs and who can blame them? BUT, there is so much more to ancient life! I would love to have a time machine and go back to see this all happening. How amazing would that be? No bottom to this barrel of discovery.



posted on Oct, 7 2014 @ 05:43 AM
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Mod Note:

Let's stick to the topic, please.

Do not reply to this post



posted on Oct, 7 2014 @ 09:00 AM
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originally posted by: ABNARTY
I know everyone loves dinosaurs and who can blame them? BUT, there is so much more to ancient life!

Very true.

Dinosaurs are actually quite recent in the grand scheme of things -- with the dinosaur era starting about 250 Million years ago. Even if we are only talking about complex life (which may have really taken off about 600 Million years ago), there was still a longer amount of time that complex life was around BEFORE the dinosaur era than there has been since the beginning of the dinosaur era.

If we just talk about life on Earth in general (which started probably about 3.8 Billion years ago), then dinosaurs are a very, very recent form of life. If the 3.8 Billion year history of life on Earth was condensed into a single 24-hour day, then dinosaurs didn't show up until around 10:30 PM (22:30). Life existed for about 22.5 hours of that 24 hour day before dinosaurs came along.

Of course, most of that time life was just single-celled or simple multi-celled life. As I mentioned, complex life didn't get a strong foothold until much later -- about 600 Million (+/-) years ago, or about 8:00 PM (20:00) of that 24-hour day.


By the way, where do modern humans fall in this compressing of the history of life on Earth to the 24-hour day?: modern humans (Homo sapiens) have only been around since about 2.3 minutes before midnight (11:57:40 PM).


edit on 10/7/2014 by Soylent Green Is People because: (no reason given)



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