This ancient sea worm sported a crowd of ‘claws’ around its mouth | Science News

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This ancient sea worm sported a crowd of ‘claws’ around its mouth

Newly discovered animal had about double the number of spikes as its modern counterparts

11:00am, August 23, 2017
illustration of an ancient arrow worm

SPINY SWIMMER  An ancient arrow worm (illustrated) had about 50 spines protruding from its face to help it capture prey.

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Predatory sea worms just aren’t as spiny as they used to be.

These arrow worms, which make up the phylum Chaetognatha, snatch prey with Wolverine-like claws protruding from around their mouths. Researchers now report that a newly identified species of ancient arrow worm was especially heavily armed. Dubbed Capinatator praetermissus, the predator had about 50 curved head spines, more than twice as many as most of its modern relatives. Arranged in two crescents, the spines could snap shut like a Venus flytrap to catch small invertebrates.

More than 100 species of chaetognaths are alive today, but evidence of their ancient relatives is spotty. C. praetermissus lived a little more than 500 million years ago during the Cambrian Period and was identified from 49 specimens found in the fossil-rich Burgess Shale in British Columbia,

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