Fortunately, it's extinct, maybe for half a billion years. It was, as several science writers put it without quotes, "the world's first superpredator." Hm.
Anomalocaris, known for some years from fossil deposits in the Burgess Shale in British Columbia, it has also been found in China and Australia. But until now, the remains of this meter-long carnivore had no known eyes. The news peg is that Australian scientists have found fossils of the eyes--huge, insectlike compound eyes on stalks. The art shown here helped land it on the cover of today's Nature.
Ian Sample of the Guardian in the U.K., who puts the doubly superlative phrase in his lede, writes: "Anomalocaris sits near the foot of the arthropod family tree, making it a primitive ancestor of modern insects and crustaceans."
Jennifer Viegas of Discovery News, who uses the same phrase in her lede, says that the beast's huge peepers are the biggest compound eyes known from any era at more than an inch across. She says they would have given it better vision than any arthropod known except for today's dragonflies.
So, how did so many professional journalists come up with the identical phrase? They lifted it from the hed on the news release from the South Australian Museum. How convenient. So much for the journalism pros.
JohnThomas Didymus of Digital Journal explained that the phrase often used by paleontologists was "world's first apex predator." Sounds more like a scientist talking, doesn't it? Digital Journal is a Toronto-based site that takes user-generated content and has a sprinkling of professional journalists keeping tabs on its output. Didymus, apparently an unpaid journalist, writes from Nigeria.
Over at Nature, Michael Marshall, thankfully, avoided the phrase and came up with one of his own: "a gigantic primordial shrimp." The genus name means "strange shrimp."