A team of researchers has recently discovered a strange-looking ancient creature that had many spikes on its back, as well as feathery front limbs used for filtering the water and catch its small prey. The prehistoric worm creature lived more than 500 million years ago during the Cambrian Period, in the ancient seas of what we know today as China.
The scientists announced on Monday that they have found a previously-unknown prehistoric animal; they said the creature’s fossils were found in Yunnan Province, China.
According to the experts, the animal is called Collinsium ciliosum and it thrived in the Cambrian Period, which is known as a time when nature experimented a lot with evolution. During this prehistoric period there were many strange creatures that came and went.
Javier Ortega-Hernández, expert in paleontological biology at the University of Cambridge and one of the researchers who discovered the prehistoric worm creature, explained that the animal was indeed quite creepy-looking and if someone were to see it nowadays they would have a scare.
Although many might find the creature repulsive, with its many legs and spiky back, some scientists called it a “handsome beast”, including Xi-Guang Zhang, paleontologist at Yunnan University in Kunming, China. The name of the creature literally translates as “hairy Collins monster”, a tribute to Desmond Collins, a paleontologist from Canada who thought of a similar creature long before it was discovered.
The scientists detailed their finding in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
According to Ortega-Hernández, the prehistoric worm creature, which lived more than 500 million years ago, is one of the earliest ancestors of the modern velvet worm, a species of worm very similar to legged worms that live in the tropical regions of the planet.
The researchers described the worm as being approximately 10 centimeters long and having more than 70 sharp spikes on its backside to scare off predators. They also said this ancient worm is one of the first known creatures to develop a protective mechanism, such as the spiky armor.
The worm’s body was long and thin, with six pair of front legs and nine pairs of back legs; the front appendages were feathery and soft, while the back ones ended in sharp claws. It caught its prey by shaping its front legs into a basket with which it captured the particles of food. Collinsium is a close relative to another spiky creature that lived during the Cambrian period, the Hallucinogenia.
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