TechPrehistoric 'beasts of terror': Fossilized predatory worms unearthed in northern Greenland

Prehistoric 'beasts of terror': Fossilized predatory worms unearthed in northern Greenland

Scientists have discovered predatory worms from millions of years ago - illustrative photo
Scientists have discovered predatory worms from millions of years ago - illustrative photo
Images source: © Unsplash

10:02 AM EST, January 4, 2024

This recent discovery was documented in the scientific journal, "Science Advances". As revealed by experts, the Timorebestia were among the most significant swimming creatures during the Cambrian period. Their bodies stretched to nearly 12 inches in length and boasted fins, a distinct head with elongated antennae, and large jaws. While these attributes might not seem substantial by today's standards, the Timorebestia posed a significant threat to animals sharing their habitat around 518 million years ago, according to IFL Science.

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"Our research suggests these ancient oceanic ecosystems were quite intricate, with the food chain supporting several tiers of predators," stated Dr. Jakob Vinther, one of the study's authors and a Faculty of Earth Sciences and Biological Sciences member at the University of Bristol. He added that the Timorebestia, as a giant of its era, was near the peak of its food chain. This aspect compares with modern-day oceanic predators such as sharks and seals.

Scientists found remains of a common Cambrian-period arthropod known as Isoxys in the fossilized digestive system of the predatory worms. The Isoxys stood no chance against the Timorebestia, which preyed on them in large quantities and, in turn, served as food for several other species. Researchers believe that this discovery holds valuable insights into ancient predatory behavior.

It is also speculated that Timorebestia and chaetognaths ruled the oceans for 10 to 15 million years before being replaced by other predators. These species are perceived as ancestors to contemporary, smaller marine invertebrate predators classified under the chaetognaths category (Chaetognatha) that range between 0.1 to 4 inches in length and survive on tiny zooplankton.

"Over the next few years, we'll likely stumble upon more fascinating findings that will shed light on the nature of the early animal ecosystems and their evolution," anticipates Tae Yoon Park from the Korean Polar Research Institute, a fellow researcher on the project.

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