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Prehistoric worm with huge jaws discovered

February 23, 2017 | Comment icon 8 comments

The new species would have been similar to today's bobbit worms. Image Credit: CC BY 2.0 Jenny Huang
Scientists have identified a previously unknown species of primordial giant worm with huge snapping jaws.
This terrifying ocean-dweller lived around 400 million years ago and had jaws over one centimeter in length - the largest ever seen in a species of worm. By comparison, the jaws of most worm fossils are mere millimetres in size and have to be viewed under a microscope.

At up to a meter in length, this remarkable species, which has been named Websteroprion armstrongi, is thought to have been similar to today's Bobbit worms - a type of ambush predator which lives on the ocean floor and uses its powerful jaws to grab unsuspecting prey.

"Gigantism in animals is an alluring and ecologically important trait, usually associated with advantages and competitive dominance," said study lead author Mats Eriksson.

"It is, however, a poorly understood phenomenon among marine worms and has never before been demonstrated in a fossil species. The new species demonstrates a unique case of polychaete gigantism in the Palaeozoic, some 400 million years ago."

Source: | Comments (8)

Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #1 Posted by Darkenpath25 6 years ago
I am glad it was a fossil , I'd hate trying to get that sucker on my fishing hook . joking aside its always interesting what Geologist finds. 
Comment icon #2 Posted by ShadowSot 6 years ago
Somebody call Burt.
Comment icon #3 Posted by oldrover 6 years ago
It's the distant ancestor of the Mongolian death worm. 
Comment icon #4 Posted by White Unicorn 6 years ago
Why did I first think of tremors when I saw the jaws LOL But seriously I love the way we are finding so many new species in fossils.
Comment icon #5 Posted by paperdyer 6 years ago
It's quite interesting and scary as well.  I wonder if they evolved into something else or just died off.   I also vote for calling Burt.
Comment icon #6 Posted by Sundew 6 years ago
Look up videos of Bobbit Worms, nasty ambush predators. Then there's the rare Loraina Bobbit Worm. Even deadlier.
Comment icon #7 Posted by Oniomancer 6 years ago
Proof that Ontario was once the southern range of the Alaskan Bull Worm.
Comment icon #8 Posted by Hammerclaw 6 years ago
Rather reminiscent of modern flatworms.               

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