The researchers ran the evaluation on digital reconstructions of the appendages, to determine how a lot stress they might deal with. For comparability, they did the identical for a special historic arthropod, Sidneyia inexpectans — a identified shell-crusher — in addition to the horseshoe crab. They then in contrast the outcomes.
O. serratus, they discovered, probably didn’t have the power to interrupt into shelled creatures — its lengthy spines would have snapped, Dr. Bicknell stated. Instead, it probably used these spines to shred detritus and comfortable prey akin to worms, the best way we would flake steamed fish aside with a fork.
R. rex, nevertheless, was apparently constructed to crush. According to the evaluation, its appendages may face up to extra pressure than these of the horseshoe crab. It might have specialised in consuming shelled prey, together with different trilobites, and even different Redlichia, Dr. Bicknell stated.
This sort of digital experimentation permits for a deeper look into “the function of anatomical parts that cannot be tested otherwise,” stated Karen Moreno, a paleontologist on the Austral University of Chile, who was not concerned within the research.
But as a result of sure data — akin to a trilobite’s muscle positions or the fabric properties of its exoskeleton — is unknown and have to be approximated, she stated, actual measurements and agency conclusions are inconceivable. Instead, making comparisons with creatures we higher perceive, just like the horseshoe crab, lets specialists “search for patterns — approximations that will drive future investigations.”
Asked whether or not he want to lastly reply a few of these questions as soon as and for all — by a time-traveling snorkeling journey, for instance — Dr. Bicknell stated sure.
“The Cambrian was effectively when arthropods ruled the world,” he stated. “It would just be so beautiful to see — beautiful may not be the right word. But interesting.”