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Giant Prehistoric Shrimp Discovered In Morocco (VIDEO)

Big Shrimp

First Posted: 05/31/11 12:29 PM ET Updated: 11/16/11 06:11 AM ET

This newly-discovered, prehistoric shellfish gives whole new meaning to the term jumbo shrimp.

Yale researchers announced they discovered in southeastern Morocco the fossilized remains of a giant, killer shrimp with three-feet long tentacles on its head.

During the Ordovician period -- about 488 to 472 million years ago -- the spiny precursor to modern crustaceans known as anomalocaridids dominated the seas, National Geographic reported.

"Anomalocaridids are always depicted as these fierce horrible predators, ripping up things and tearing them apart -- and no doubt some of them were," said Peter Van Roy, a palaeontologist at Yale University and one of the co-authors of the findings published in Nature.

Scientists said the gargantuan prawn is about a foot bigger than previously found specimens and also about 30 million years younger than earlier discoveries, the Daily Mail reported.

For over 100 years, scientists had misidentified the fossils of anomalocaridids. Because it was difficult to find a full sample of the soft-bodied sea creatures, researchers were forced to work with only partial remains. The specimens were often called called relatives of sea cucumbers, jelly fish and shrimp, until Van Roy's co-author Derek Briggs and another colleague identified that they came from a single animal.


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Filed by Michael McLaughlin  |