Odd Shrimp Story

How did the first creature with complex eyes evolve? Follow the story of the Child Odd Shrimp and its remarkable adaptation to become the top predator of its time.

Mar 26, 2023 - 15:22
Mar 26, 2023 - 15:32
Odd Shrimp Story

We must first travel back 13.8 billion years ago to the moment of the Big Bang. Imagine a small object, roughly the size of a tennis ball, with extreme density and temperature that explodes, creating not only you and me, but also time and space. This explosion is the most significant event in the history of the universe.

Following the Big Bang, the universe remained dark for some time. As it expanded, the temperature rapidly dropped until, after 380,000 years, photons began to decouple. This event marked the birth of the first light in the universe, known as the cosmic microwave background radiation (CMB). The discovery of CMB is an interesting story that can make people laugh, so I won’t expand here.

The cosmic microwave background radiation, the first light in the universe, originated from 13.8 billion years ago, or 13.8 billion light-years away.

"But hold on", "we're here to hear about creation of first eye, not the CMB. Why are you talking about this?" Don't worry, my friends, for every story in the universe is interconnected. Let us journey through time and space, from that distant moment 13.8 billion years ago, to a time more recent: over 500 million years ago on planet Earth.

The earth at that time was teeming with life during the Cambrian period, a period that students majoring in paleontology would be familiar with. Around 530 million years ago, a plethora of animals suddenly emerged on the earth within a span of 20 million years. They coincidentally and rapidly originated, forming various phyla and diverse species that existed simultaneously. The Cambrian explosion of life remains an unsolved mystery in paleontology and geology. Presently, there is no unified explanation for why biological species collectively appeared or even exploded during that time. However, one thing is for certain, organisms were evolving at an unprecedented rate. Those that failed to adapt to the environment were quickly eliminated and replaced by stronger organisms. During this time, the eyes of some creatures evolved. So, without further ado, let us introduce the protagonist of this section——Child Odd Shrimp!

Odd Shrimp - Anomalocaris

Is it swollen? Isn't that little shrimp incredibly adorable and charming? However, don't be deceived by its cute exterior, as it can grow up to two meters in length and is a formidable predator.

According to Baidu Encyclopedia, it possesses a pair of enormous stalked eyes, segmented forelimbs that are perfect for rapidly capturing prey, a stunningly beautiful fan-shaped tail, and a pair of lengthy tail forks. Even though it isn't proficient at walking, it can swim at breakneck speeds. With a massive 25-centimeter-wide mouth, it can hunt and consume any large creatures of its time. The mouth contains ring-shaped outer teeth that pose a severe threat to animals protected by mineralized outer armor. This carnivorous creature has a powerful attack capability and can grow to a size of over two meters, while most other animals during that period were only a few millimeters to a few centimeters in size.

As the supreme ruler of the ocean during its time, the Odd Shrimp maintained its reign for millions of years due to its powerful physique and, most importantly, its pair of large black eyes atop its head. It's worth noting that eyes only began to develop during the Cambrian period. Many creatures didn't have eyes (or perhaps only possessed photoreceptor cells), and even those with eyes had poor vision due to incomplete evolution. These creatures could only discern the outlines of objects in their surroundings, rendering them helpless when confronted by predators. In the "arms race" of sight, the Odd Shrimp was a successful predator and was far ahead of most creatures at the time. It was the first to evolve eyes that could truly "see" things!

The evolution of the eye is a complex topic, beginning with the evolution of photoreceptor cells and gradually forming into eyes that are similar to those found in modern organisms. Let's consider the Odd Shrimp as the first creature with "complex" eyes.

  • Let's do some calculations:
      • 13.8 billion years ago: the first ray of light.
      • 4.5 billion years ago: the birth of the Earth.
      • 3.6 billion years ago: 530 million years before the emergence of life on Earth.

    Finally, the Odd Shrimp evolved eyes that could perceive the light that had existed for ten billion years.

From a certain perspective, the creatures that lived during that era are something to be proud of! As the first inhabitants of Earth, they witnessed the warm and bright light that illuminated their world. From that point on, vision became one of the most important senses for many creatures, including humans.


From the first rays of light in the universe to the emergence of complex vision in creatures like the Odd Shrimp, the story of the eye is a reminder of the incredible journey that has brought us to where we are today. As we continue to explore the mysteries of the natural world, the story of the eye will undoubtedly continue to inspire and captivate us.

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