Newly discovered animal had about double the number of spikes as its modern counterparts
Marianne Collins, © Royal Ontario Museum
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,