What all human beings are fascinated about is Dinosaurs, as they are being one of the oldest creatures on earth. But, this recent research claims that long before dinosaurs roamed the Earth, a bizarre creature with a Venus flytrap-like head swam the seas.
Researchers uncovered fossils of a tiny faceless pre historic sea worm with 50 spines jutting out of its head. When some unsuspecting critter came too close, its jaw-like spines snapped together and dinner was served, this recent discovery reported in Thursday’s journal Current Biology offers a glimpse into the Cambrian explosion of life on Earth about 541 million years past.
Dubbed as Capinatator praetor missus, this new creature is so different that scientists said the fossils represent not only a new species but a new genus which is a larger grouping of life too, being only 4 inches long and spines about one-third of an inch long, it feasted on smaller plankton and shrimp-like creatures.
According to the journal, this creature is an ancestor of a group of marine arrow worms called chaetognatha that are abundant in the world’s oceans. The prehistoric version was larger and with far more spines in its facial armor but without the specialized teeth of its descendants, said Derek Briggs of Yale University who led a team that discovered the trove of fossils in two national parks in Canada’s British Columbia.
“The spines are like miniature hooks, although more gently curved. They were stiff rather than flexible, it’s hard to say why there are so many spines in the fossil example – but presumably thus armed it was a successful predator,” Briggs said in the email he sent.
The name actually means ‘grasping swimmer’, lived 500 million years ago at a time when creatures started getting bigger and more diverse. It’s difficult to find complete fossils belonging to the Chaetognatha family because they decayed easily, said Briggs. This latest find, however, was so good that even soft tissue was saved, giving scientists a good idea of its looks.
Meanwhile, Smithsonian paleobiologist Doug Erwin said that the discovery expands scientists’ knowledge of a “pretty enigmatic” group of animals from the Cambrian era.