By Tim Binnall
Researchers studying an odd fossil found in Colombia say that the creature in question was a bizarre-looking crab that left experts scratching their heads because it was seemingly composed of parts of different contemporary crustaceans. Reportedly first discovered back in 2005, the strange remains are detailed in a scientific paper published this week.
In a press release unveiling the weird crab to the world, lead researcher Javier Luque marveled that "this baffling fossil is like the platypus of the crab world." Dubbed 'Callichimaera perplexa' or 'perplexing beautiful chimera,' the crab sported flippers akin to those of a sea scorpion, a lobster-like shell, and a mouth similar to a shrimp. Additionally, it boasted a set of disproportionately large eyes that protruded out of its body.
Believed to have lived on Earth a whopping 95 million years ago, the curious crab was around the size of a quarter and, despite its diminutive proportions, was probably a predator. Beyond merely its amazing appearance, scientists say that the new species could fundamentally change our understanding of how modern-day crabs came to be. "This reveals a new branch in the tree of life that has never been seen before," explained another scientist who worked on the paper.