A team of paleontologists from the Royal Ontario Museum (ROM) has Discovered in the Canadian Rockies the fossil remains of a new extinct species that lived in the Cambrian, half a billion years ago.
The fossil, which was excavated in Kootenay National Park (Canada), It belongs to a new species called Titanokorys Gainesi, which is distinguished by its large size.
Details of the discovery were published today in the journal Royal Society Open Science.
With Estimated length is half a meterAnd Titanokorys were gigantic compared to most animals that lived in the seas at the time, most of which were barely the size of a small finger.
“The size of this animal is absolutely mind-boggling, it’s one of the largest Cambrian animals ever found,” says Jean-Bernard Caron, Richard M. Ivy, Curator of Invertebrate Paleontology at ROM.
From an evolutionary point of view, titanokorys belong to a group of primitive arthropods called radiodonts, represented by the streamlined predator Anomalocaris, which can reach a length of up to one meter.
Like all radios, the Titanokorys . had multi-faceted eyes (common in modern insects and crustaceans), Mouth lined with teeth shaped like a pineapple slice, a pair of spiny claws under the head for catching prey, and a body with fins for swimming.
Within this group, some species also had large, striking shells on their heads, and the Titanokorys are one of the largest known.
Titanokorys are one of a subgroup of radiodonts, húrdids, characterized by an incredibly long head covered in a three-segment shield that takes on innumerable shapes. The head is so long in relation to the body that these animals are actually nothing more than swimming heads”says Joe Moysiuk, a study co-author and a doctoral student in ecology and evolutionary biology at the University of Toronto.
The authors note that the reason why some species of radiodont have evolved such an amazing variety of shell shapes and sizes is not yet fully understood, but the broad, flat shell shape of titanocoris suggests that these species may have adapted to life near the sea floor.
These mysterious animals undoubtedly had a major impact on the ecosystems of the Cambrian sea floor. Their front limbs looked like multiple stacks and were very effective at scraping whatever they caught with their little thorns in their mouths. “The massive dorsal cortex could have acted like a plow,” says Caron.
The fossils in this study were collected around Marble Canyon, north of Kootenai National Park, on various ROM expeditions.
Discovered less than a decade ago, this area has produced a variety of Cambrian fauna, including a smaller, more abundant relative of the Titanokory called Cambroraster falcatus named after the famous Millennium Falcon from Star Wars.
According to the authors, the two species could have competed for similar prey on the sea floor.
(With information from EFE)