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Ancient weirdos roamed seas longer than thought, plus clever turtle embryos and da Vinci’s tree patterns in this week’s news

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4:02pm, June 1, 2011

Weird giants kept on swimming
The biggest beasts known from the great evolutionary explosion of animal life about 540 million years ago, the anomalocarids, apparently did not know they were supposed to be extinct icons of their era, instead surviving some 30 million years longer than paleontologists had realized. Fossils of these marine invertebrates, which roughly resemble swimming empanadas with coat hooks in front, appear in Moroccan rock dating to a mere 488 to 472 million years ago, researchers from the University of Ghent in Belgium and Yale University report in the May 26 Nature. The biggest of the recent trove stretched a full meter in length, about half again the size of earlier giants. —Susan Milius

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