The Age of the Dinosaurs was also a time of strange marine animals. We all love the virtually sea serpent-like marine reptiles and giant fish of the era but plenty have been overshadowed by these leviathans. Recently, a much smaller animal has revealed itself to the world. Its name is Dollocaris. It may not have been famous before but Dollocaris certainly deserves attention. A recent study by Jean Vannier from France's University of Lyon and a few colleagues reveals why you absolutely must know this cute creature.
Dollocaris is certainly one of the strangest marine animals of the time. It was most certainly a predator, with spiny grasping legs to snag its fast-moving prey. But it is not these pincers that made it so unique. Instead, Dollocaris had more lenses in its eyes than any other animal with compound eyes. But this kind of eye is hardly unique to this animal.
The compound eye has been in existence since the Cambrian Explosion half a billion years ago. Dollocaris has over 18,000 lenses, a number only surpassed by modern dragonflies. Vannier adds that this may have made the animal an entirely visual hunter. Whether or not it saw in color is not known but the compound eye was so good as an adaptation that it is found in today’s insects and crustaceans. The French team also discovered that the animal’s eyes were truly enormous. Not only were they filled with lenses that gave Dollocaris a panoramic view but they were also a quarter the length of the creature itself.