The Anomalocaris Homepage
This page last revised 19 March 2005 by Sam Gon III

· History 1
· Bauplan
Gallery 1 ·

History 2

Species 1

Gallery 2

Species 2

Gallery 3

this page features animated images of anomalocaridids

Species 3

Species 4

Image Gallery 3 - Anomalocarids in art
The images on this page are artistic renditions of anomalocarids. I offer critiques on the accuracy of the reconstructions, based on what is known of the fossil specimens and their photographs, and published accounts (with the caveat that some of those are controversial as well!) Above an beyond the accuracy, it is refreshing to note the diversity of artistic styles expressed in the depiction of such unusual subject matter.

A dark reconstruction of Anomalocaris canadensis cruising above the ocean floor captures the essence of the sleek, swimming hunter. The eyestalks are swiveled forward, checking the floor ahead for prey

The combination of physical model photographed against a real marine setting is effective here. The reconstruction depicts the swimming lobes as dorsal features, which does not match the fossil evidence. Neither does the strong overlap between the last swimming lobes and the fantail.
This pen and ink rendition of Laggania cambria does justice to the fossil specimens by showing ventral swimming lobe placement. The sweep of the curve of the body is quite attractive, as is the tilted orientation of the scene. Although the depiction of a distinct "head" matches that of Whittington and Briggs (1985), the fossils specimens of Laggania really don't show such a strong separation.

This rendition of Laggania cambria as a fast-moving swimmer shows a dorsoventrally flattened animal that is streamlined for swimming. The sine-wave of swimming movements along the lateral lobes is clearly shown. The animal almost has a squid-like demeanor.
This small image of Anomalocaris chomping on a trilobite depicts the swimming lobes as independent, wing-like flaps, each capable of movment. 
The same model as the image above, but in a larger, swimming depiction, suggests that there was dorsal segmentation, which is possible, not clearly shown in fossil specimens. The imbrication of the tail lobes seems correct, and the angled depiction effectively avoids the problem of whether the fantail overlapped with the segments bearing the last pairs of swimming lobes.

This image, as if taken hovering just above the surface of the Cambrian ocean, shows a red-eyed Anomalocaris cruising just below the surface. Once againm dorsal segmentation is apparent, and the artist chose to depict the dorsal fantail as independent of the swimming lobes.

Sometimes the artistic renditions get quite imaginative and bright. This anomalocarid is not a match for any known species, but Laggania is probably the inspiring taxon. The fins are dorsally placed, which is a problem, but I like the fluorescent mouth, and the bright color patterns.
A pair of Laggania cruise the Burgess cliffs in this depiction: a good match for the Whittington & Briggs 1985 reconstruction. One of the reasons Laggania is popular with computer artists is that the different body parts can be constructed readily using simple, geometric "primitives" (basic shapes without much complex topology), then combined and posed at will.
My rendition of Anomalocaris canadensis, created in Macromedia Freehand, captures a concept of the animal as an active and acrobatic swimmer, able to capture evasive swimming prey. The swimming lobes are ventral, and the dorsal fantail follows the last pa
ir of swimming lobes.

In contrast, I depict Laggania as a sweep-feeding planktivore, that moves through the well-lit upper waters, raking in small swimming creatures, much as manta rays and whale-sharks do today. In ecological thought, the partitioning of trophic guilds by two species of anomalocarids in this manner would allow for their coexistence without much competition.

I end this page with an image I created of two Anomalocaris canadensis converging on an Olenoides trilobite. This doesn't necessarily imply that they engaged in cooperative hunting. The second Anomalocaris could have merely been attracted to the commotion caused by the activities of the other. It would be interesting to consider what kinds of agonistic behaviors occurred between individuals, and whether they engaged in any specialized territorial or courtship behaviors.