1. WHAT IS A BUG?
‘Way, way back in time, before the dinosaurs, before the woolly mammoths, long before human beings, some ancient forms of life were swimming through the oceans that covered planet Earth. Five hundred and forty million years ago, these creatures began to change rapidly into new and different forms, in an evolutionary explosion that altered life on Earth entirely. Their descendants still exist all over the world today,
in every continent and every country, in every crevice and every corner, creatures we call .. . bugs!’
On the Origin of (Bug) Species In the Cambrian period 540 million years ago, the ancestors of today’s bugs were spread out through the oceans, where seaweed streamed in the currents and green blobs of algae slopped around in the waves. Sea sponges clung to the rocks in the shallows. Trilobites swam through the seas in their thousands, their compact bodies helping them survive. These creatures were early types of arthropod, a group of bugs that includes many species today. Scientists call this time the ‘Cambrian Explosion’, as countless numbers of creatures evolved all at once and continued to flourish in the following Ordovician period too.
Hallucigenia – wrong way up!
Opabinia was a five-eyed, prong-headed predator that hunted through coral reefs for ancient fish-like species to eat, gobbling up its prey on the seafloor.
Ramphoprion had a strange angular body, but is a distant relative of the modern earthworm. Two-metre-long Aegirocassis swam with its jaws wide open, scooping tiny marine organisms into its mouth. Explorers first thought the spikes on Hallucigenia’s back were its legs, although they were mystified as to how this underwater creature could move on such pointy sticks. The mystery was cleared up when scientists pointed out that it had been reconstructed upside down. Oops!