The form of the assumed extinct sand lancet is known only from several hundred mummified specimens recently discovered near Sesriem Canyon in the Namib during the construction of a tourist camp.
The animal is believed to have inhabited dry sand African deserts.
A tiny canal found running through the center of in the very sharp upper crest (lancet) to a cavity near the maxilla has lead to an interesting supposition as to the animals method of obtaining food and social behavior. The tube is surmised to carry a potent toxin that would enter the foot pad of animals would tread on the lancet which buried itself just beneath the surface. The powerful short tail would quickly bury the animal into the top level of sand. When the lancet was stepped on the head would rapidly and powerfully move upward piercing the foot pad and inject a neurotoxin that would affect the prey’s muscles. The size of prey would determine the distance it would travel before succumbing to the toxin. The larger the victim the farther away the lancet’s food source would collapse.
This method of food procurement leads to a hypothesis of the sand lancet’s social behavior. Due to the happenstance type of nutrition acquisition and the large number of specimens found in one location it is believed the lancet was a communal animal. A large area inhabited by numerous lancets would provide a large ‘piercing field’ increasing the chance of poisoning prey. All individuals feeling the pressure of an animal on the surface would be stimulated and force their crest into the foot of the prey. The chance that the food source would immediately collapse was small. A large colony would increase the chances of a successful ‘attack’. More importantly a larger death field means the prey would fall nearby or on top individuals which most likely had nothing to do with the demise of that particular victim. It is thought individuals rarely profited from their own assault. This infers that the ‘colony’ was in continual motion. Individuals seeking a position in the community where they would hopefully expend less energy in obtaining food and benefiting from their neighbors’ efforts in stinging the prey.
The discovery of a bioluminescence capability has intrigued researchers. Did the luminescence aid in locating the fallen prey? Finding mates?
This is all supposition and awaits further study into the biology of this fascinating and apparently extinct animal.
Began in Pixelmator and finished in Procreate on iPad Pro with the Apple Pencil.