Tuesday 21 November 2017

PrehiScotInktoberfest Day 21: Cephalaspis

PrehiScotInktoberfest 21 returns to the sea (again, this happens a lot when most of your country's fossils are marine lifeforms).

Cephalaspis ("Shield head") swam - very slowly - in the Devonian estuaries of what is now Strathmore. Cephy was a jawless fish like Jamy, about the size of a trout: unlike Jamy, however, it had an impressive plow-like shield on its head. This was likely an adaptation for multiple uses: for calcium storage in low-calcium environments; to shovel dirt, silt, and sand out of the way as it hoovered up algae and worms; and, most ominously, as a defense against the gigantic sea-scorpions which menaced Scottish seas in this time.

Cephalaspis has the unfortunate luck to be a "wastebasket taxon": if remains from a jawless fish are too fragmentary or inconclusive for diagnosis, they tend to be assigned to Cephalaspis out of convenience. There are thus dozen of Cephy species all around the world, a number which will probably grow in the years to come.

Cephy might look familiar to documentary watchers: it appeared in a starring role on "Walking With Monsters," the underrated prequel to "Walking With Dinosaurs," along with some of terrifying predators - who will receive their own PrehiScotInktoberfest soonly...

"Wait, whit he say aboot terrifying predators?"

"Dinnae ken, bit ahm naw waitin' tae find oot!"

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