Largest bristle worm ever has been identified by the researchers of the University of Bristol, Lund University in Sweden and the Royal Ontario Museum.
The fossil which is 400 million years old, has been resting in the museum since June 1994 and was discovered by Derek K Armstrong. However, it wasn’t known as to which animal it belonged to. It was found at the bottom of Hudson Bay near Ontario, Canada. The jaw of the species ranges 1 centimetre unlike jaws of other worms, whose jaws have to be seen under a microscope and are too small to be visible to naked eyes. It is assumed that this worm with this big jaw must have a big body too ranging to some meters.
It was in 2014 that the experts decided to find out more about the fossil. Scientists have named them as ‘Websteroprion armstrongito Their big mouth can easily trap a fish, squid and a small octopus.
“Gigantism in animals is an alluring and ecologically important trait, usually associated with advantages and competitive dominance. It is, however, a poorly understood phenomenon among marine worms and has never before been demonstrated in a fossil species. The new species demonstrates a unique case of polychaete gigantism in the Palaeozoic, some 400 million years ago” said Mats Eriksson, lead author of the University, from Lund University. Luke Parry from the University of Bristol’s School of Earth Sciences, is the co-author of the study.
The warm climate might have contributed in increasing the size of the worm, according to the scientists involved in the study as Bobbit Worms show this character and can grow bigger in the right climate. Bobbit worms are closely related to the owner of the jaw.
Researchers have found only one such kind of fossil. Thus, they can’t say much about the giant monster as of now. A study on a larger scale is required to find its sibling so that study authors can come to a conclusion.
The study has been published in the journal ‘Scientific Reports’.