Paleontologists have discovered the fossils of an ancient creature that lived more than half a billion years ago and had a strange appearance. The prehistoric worm had sharp spikes all over its body and captured its food using soft, feather-like legs. The creepy crawler lived in the primordial seas of what we call today China.
The researchers announced their discovery on Monday morning, saying they have unearthed the fossils of a prehistoric worm in the Yunnan Province of China. The creature’s scientific name is Collinsium ciliosum and according to the ones who discovered it, it lived in the ancient waters during the Cambrian Period. This prehistoric period is known for its diversity of creatures that were highly unusual-looking.
Javier Ortega-Hernández, paleontologist at the University of Cambridge, talked about the prehistoric worm saying that if it existed today and people would bump into it, they would certainly be a little scared because of its strange “look”.
The paleobiologists detailed their recent findings in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Xi-Guang Zhang, a researcher at the Yunnan University in Kunming, China, said that although many would find the creature repulsive, he sees it as being quite “a handsome beast”. Xi-Guang Zhang said the worm’s name means “hairy Collins monster” and was named after Canadian paleontologist Desmond Collins. The creature was nicknamed “hairy” because of its front limbs that were covered in a fur-like structure.
According to professor Zhang, paleontologist Desmond Collins thought about a similar creature years before it was discovered.
Ortega-Hernández said the prehistoric worm lived more than 500 million years ago and believes it to be the one of the most distant ancestors of the modern velvet worms, which live in the tropical forests. Ortega-Hernández describes the bizarre worm as being about 4 inches long and covered in approximately 72 sharp spikes on the back which were acted as protection armor against predators. The researchers see this defense mechanism as one of the first body armors that animals developed to intimidate predators.
This prehistoric worm had an elongated body, six pairs of feathery front legs, nine pairs of back legs that ended in claws and a round head. The experts say the creature is a close relative to Hallucigenia, another creature that had spikes and lived during the Cambrian Period.
Other strange-looking animals that lived in Cambrian times include Wiwaxia, Anomalocaris and Nectocaris.
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