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Prehistoric carnivorous 'terror beast' worm fossils unearthed in Greenland

By T.K. Randall
January 5, 2024 · Comment icon 2 comments
Artistic impression of Timorebestia.
Artist's impression of Timorebestia. Image Credit: Artwork by Bob Nicholls / @BobNichollsArt
Over 500 million years ago, these huge predatory worms prowled the Cambrian seas.
It's difficult to imagine what life was like on our planet hundreds of millions of years before the dinosaurs, but now a new fossil discovery has provided scientists with a unique opportunity to peer back in time to an era before any animals had emerged onto dry land at all.

Discovered in North Greenland, the fossils are those of a species of large carnivorous worm measuring approximately 1ft in length (making it a giant compared to most other creatures of the time).

Named Timorebestia (or 'terror beasts'), these worms would have been the top of the food chain around 518 million years ago. Some of the fossils even had evidence of prey still digesting in their stomachs.

Scientists believe that these predatory worms roamed the world's oceans for up to 15 million years.
"We have previously known that primitive arthropods were the dominant predators during the Cambrian, such as the bizarre-looking anomalocaridids," said study co-author Dr. Jakob Vinther.

"However, Timorebestia is a distant, but close, relative of living arrow worms, or chaetognaths. These are much smaller ocean predators today that feed on tiny zooplankton."

"Our research shows that these ancient ocean ecosystems were fairly complex with a food chain that allowed for several tiers of predators."

"Timorebestia were giants of their day and would have been close to the top of the food chain."

"That makes it equivalent in importance to some of the top carnivores in modern oceans, such as sharks and seals back in the Cambrian period."

Source: University of Bristol | Comments (2)

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Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #1 Posted by Cho Jinn 4 months ago
Huge Predatory Worm was my nickname in college.
Comment icon #2 Posted by Occupational Hubris 4 months ago
Look, i just want to point out that for at least the last week or so that worms are scary and dangerous, and then this story just happens to come out? ?!!

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