A Look at Science-Writer Ken Tsuchiya's Latest Book, "Anomalocaris Palaeontology"


How Did the “Abnormal Shrimp” Become the King of the Cambrian Period?
A history (or progress report) of the Anomalocaris, which has charmed, perplexed, and excited people over the last
130 years.

Palaeontology, First Edition

Author: Ken Tsuchiya
ISBN: 978-4-89308-928-1
Publication Date: February 2020

Highlight 1: Contents
  • The unexpected history of reconstruction from the “abnormal shrimp”
  • The Earth that Anomalocaris and its fellow creatures lived in, 500 million years ago
  • Figures, dolls, and an anime… The secret behind Anomalocaris’ popularity

The Earth’s first super-predator, and star of the Paleozoic Era, the Anomalocaris. Despite its present popularity, the
discovery of the “abnormal (anomalo) shrimp (caris),” when compared to the equally abnormal oceanic creatures of this period such as the five-eyed Opabinia and spiny-backed Halluciegnia, failed to draw a great deal of attention. Despite a subdued discovery, after many twists and turns, the Anomalocaris underwent a change, becoming the meter-long “king of the Cambrian Period.”

What kind of dramatic events lay behind the century of research and reconstruction that followed the Anomalocaris’ discovery? And what is the stunning form unveiled by the reconstruction efforts of modern research? Featuring the Anomalocaris as a main character while also touching on its historical environment and creatures it lived alongside, this is the first book of palaeontology on the “abnormal shrimp,” condensing years of research and culture into a single volume.

Highlight 2: An All-Star Team
  • A New Work Brought about through the Dedicated Work of Ken Tsuchiya, author of Riaru Saizu Koseibutu Zukan (An illustrated guide to the real sizes of extinct organisms).

Science-writer Ken Tsuchiya is known in Japan for his work Riaru Saizu Koseibutu Zukan (An Illustrated Guide to the Real Sizes of Extinct Organisms), a massively successful book that led to a boom in general reader interest in the topic of extinct organisms. With a particular talent in presenting palaeontology through the lens of a storyteller, this newest work represents the fruit of over a year’s worth of hard work.

The book has also involved supervision from Professor Gengo Tanaka (Kanazawa University), a leading expert in extinct organisms, particularly on the role of eyes as a key part of biological evolution, and over 100 pieces of artistic reconstruction and fossil sketches from the recently acclaimed animal artist Shunichi Kawasaki. One could almost consider the trio an all-star team for a book on the Anomalocaris.

Highlight 3: Supplemental Material
  • An AR Anomalocaris app for smartphones

The book comes with an AR app that replicates the movement of the Anomalocaris as it finds and consumes its prey. The model was designed to be as accurate to how Anomalocaris might have looked swimming as possible, based on the most recent scientific theories, with supervision from Professor Gengo Tanaka. The model’s size and direction can be freely changed, allowing for viewers to examine the movements in greater detail. Viewers can also take photos or videos. 

For those Who Love the Anomalocaris

The reconstruction of the Anomalocaris began in 1892 with an essay by Joseph Frederick Whiteaves, and has gone through an eventful history over the last 122 years. Even Stephen Jay Gould, who describe the reconstruction of the Anomalocaris as “a tale of humor, error, struggle, frustration, and more error, culminating in an extraordinary resolution” could not have predicted the path its modern reconstruction would take.

As an author, having looked over so many changes throughout the Anomalocaris’ history, I cannot confidently claim the 2014 reconstruction to be the “definitive model.” I still believe there is the potential for new specimens, technology, or viewpoints to come along and update our present information, leading to a new chapter in this tale of startling surprises.

Extract from original text


Ken Tsuchiya (Author)

Science-writer. Representative Director for Office GeoPalaeont. Born in Saitama Prefecture, graduated from Kanazawa University’s Graduate School of Natural Science and Technology. Afterwards, became a copy editor and later deputy manager for science magazine Newton, before stepping down to work in a freelance capacity. Won the The Palaeontological Society of
Japan’s Award for Contributions to Palaeontology for his work as a science-writer in 2019. His recent works include Nihon no koseibutsu tachi (The extinct organisms of Japan), and Koseibutsu no shitataka na ikikata (The difficult lives of extinct organisms).

Shunichi Kawasaki (Artist)

Picture-book and animal artist. Born in
Osaka Prefecture in 1990. A creator who draws animals regardless of grouping, with an ability to express the exciting points of ecosystems. Graduated from Konan University’s Faculty of Law. Retired from trading company to work fulltime as an artist. On top of picture-books and art exhibitions, books he has directed illustrations and cover-art for include Futabasuzukiryū mou hitotsu no monogatari (Futabasaurus: Another story).

Gengo Tanaka (Supervisor)

Born in Ehime Prefecture in 1974. Graduated from Shimane University’s Department of Earth Science, and completed his doctoral course in Shizuoka University in 2002. Worked as postdoctoral fellow for the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science, researcher at Kyoto University, curator at Gunma Museum of Natural History, special staff-member at the Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology, specially-appointed associate professor at Kumamoto University’s Center for Marine Environment Studies, and currently works at Kanazawa University’s Institute of Liberal Arts and Science as a postgraduate research associate. Palaeontologist. Contributed to works including Kaseki no Kenkyūhō (Research methods of fossils), Koseibutsugaku jiten Dai 2 Han (Encyclopedia of Palaeontology 2nd Edition), and Atarashī chikyū wakusei kagaku (Planetary science of a new Earth).