Huge-Jawed Worm Species Terrorized Fish 400M Years Ago

The new species was discovered in storage at a Canadian museum
By Michael Harthorne,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 21, 2017 7:19 PM CST
Huge-Jawed Worm Species Terrorized Fish 400M Years Ago
This fossil shows the jaws of a newly discovered species of ancient aquatic worm that could grow to more than 3 feet in length.   (Luke Parry/University of Bristol)

Scientists have discovered a giant worm—no, not this guy—that terrorized fish, octopuses, and squids with its comparatively massive jaws 400 million years ago. UPI reports the fossil was dug up at Canada's Kwataboahegan Formation back in the mid-1990s and had been in storage at the Royal Ontario Museum since then. When scientists finally got their hands on it, they found a water-going relative of earthworms and leeches that had the biggest jaws ever seen in a bristle worm, according to a press release. Most bristle worm jaws are a scant few millimeters long and require a microscope to see; this worm's jaws were longer than a centimeter and could be seen with the naked eye.

Scientists published their findings Tuesday in Scientific Reports. While the fossils of ancient worms typically contain only their jaws, as their bodies are too soft to be preserved well, scientists can extrapolate that this new species of aquatic worm grew to more than 3 feet long. The giant, large-jawed worm has been named Websteroprion armstrongi after Derek Armstrong, who originally found the fossil, and Alex Webster, bass player for death metal band Cannibal Corpse. It seems the three scientists who discovered the worm are big music fans and amateur musicians. (This new species looks like an ant and a bee had a baby.)

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