Predators

Predators - Digital image of the Burgess Shale community-01
Seafloor teeming with life – as seen from end of the Dive sequence – with diverse sponges and algae of various shapes, sizes and colors. Tiny particles (white cloud) sink through the water towards the bottom. Camera advances and zooms towards a priapulid worm called Ottoia, which is partially buried in the mud. At a close distance, Wiwaxia, a primitive armoured mollusc, is busy grazing on Morania, a bacterial mat growing in patches along the seafloor.

Predators - Digital image of the Burgess Shale community-02
Using its flexible, barbed feeding proboscis, the priapulid worm Ottoia successfully captures and swallows a Haplophrentis, an animal with a long conical shell. Suddenly, a large swimming arthropod, Hurdia, plunges towards the distracted Ottoia, leaving no chance for escape. Spiny claws grasp the worm with deadly efficiency. The unfortunate predator, now turned prey, is pulled towards Hurdia's formidable mouth with its multiple rows of jagged teeth.

The attack creates a huge cloud of mud on the seafloor partially covering sponges and other organisms living nearby. Several individuals of the arthropod Marrella pass by, apparently unflustered.

Predators - Digital image of the Burgess Shale community-03
Hurdia is just about to swim away when Nectocaris, a primitive cephalopod, arrives on the scene and approaches the large predator, perhaps attracted by the taste of body fluids in the water. The smaller animal quickly abandons the pursuit and escapes in the opposite direction.

Spotlights are redirected towards a group of arthropods walking along the seafloor in search of small prey. These are recognizable as Canadaspis from their characteristic bivalved carapaces.

Predators - Digital image of the Burgess Shale community-04
Coming from nowhere, a giant predator called Anomalocaris - larger than Hurdia, but belonging to the same primitive group of arthropods - seizes one Canadaspis with formidable speed. The non-mineralized carapace of Canadaspis is no protection against the powerful, spine-edged claws and Anomalocaris quickly dispatches the unfortunate animal stirring up a cloud of muddy water. In the background, the surviving Canadaspis make their getaway.

Anomalocaris, with its bounty safely cradled in its claws, stops for a brief moment in front of camera before leaving the area. End of sequence. Total length = 36 sec.