A team of scientists trying to create a new database has discovered an unknown species of penis worm that lived more than 500 million years ago, during the Cambrian period, long before the dinosaurs existed.
There are several species of penis worms, both contemporary and long extinct, that scientists know of.
The largest penis worm can grow to up to 15 inches long, while others are no more than one inch in length.
These strange looking creatures have a proboscis that has teeth, spines and hooks, which they use for piercing the prey and grabbing it.
Penis worms started to flourish more than 500 million years ago, in the Cambrian period. During this time, the penis worms were some of the most common species on Earth, according to the experts.
This species of worm had the ability to turn their throat inside out and bare the rows of teeth that were inside. They did this when they wanted to hunt or defend against predators.
The biologists were able to create a new database after carefully examining the patterns of penis worm teeth. Also, the scientists discovered a previously unknown species of this animal.
Martin Smith, a biologist at the University of Cambridge and one of the researchers who discovered the new species of penis worm, explained that the new study has allowed the experts to compile a sort of “dentist handbook” that will come very handy for paleontologists in the future when they will need to recognize teeth from prehistoric animals.
The scientists were able to study the teeth using microscopes. Each teeth was about 1/25th of an inch across.
The worms’ body parts had hairs and prickles, which covered segments of a base of scales.
Megan Gannon, one of the lead authors of the study, wrote that specimens of penis worm found in the Lower Walcott Quarry had teeth with “a central prong that was flanked by just two skinny, hollow ‘denticles”.
A species of penis worm known as Ottoia prolific was discovered by Charles Walcott in 1911, in the Burgess Shale of Canada.
This is a region that is very rich in fossils which date back hundreds of millions of years, to the Cambrian period.
The penis worm lived in burrows, and experts believe its diet consisted of shelled prey and other penis worms.
The scientific name of the penis worm is Priapulida. These animals live in mud, at a depth of up to 300 feet.
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