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Think Man-Sized Swimming Centipede â€” And Be Glad It's A Fossil (by Christopher Joyce) A seven-foot-long filter-feeding anomolocarid fossil from the early Ordovician period, 480 million years ago, has been cleaned up and identified after being found in Morocco. Anomalocarids were first identified in the famous Precambrian Burgess Shale formations in western Canada, 508 million years old. For the time they were gigantic -- maybe 80cm to a meter long, when all else was tiny worms, trilobites, and some extremely weird early critters. They weren't even recognized as one creature at first. No one believed that anything that large could have lived that early. Various anomalocaris body part fossils -- mouthparts and grasping arms and body segments and fins -- were misidentified for decades as multiple species of small shrimp, sponge, or jellyfish (the name "anomalocaris" means "something odd about this shrimp"). Eventually paleontologist Harry B. Whittington put together the pieces and came to the incredible realization that something relatively gigantic and weirder than anyone thought had lived in late Precambrian seas. Anomalocaris was eventually recognized as a very early arthropod, a relative of centipedes and spiders, with some of the most advanced eyes ever evolved. As this article says, 30 million years later its descendants were still swimming around, now having evolved into even larger filter-feeders, with comblike nets at the front to help filter plankton out of the ocean. It lived like a whale, but it was an arthropod.