Dune-like sandworms really existed, but they had different dimensions. They were a nightmare for their prey

Dune-like sandworms really existed, but they had different dimensions. They were a nightmare for their prey
Dune-like sandworms really existed, but they had different dimensions. They were a nightmare for their prey
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During the so-called Cambrian explosion more than 500 million years ago, when many new species of animals suddenly appeared, these worms were among the most common predators living on the sea floor. “If you were a small invertebrate and ran into them, it would be your worst nightmare. Like being swallowed up by a belt of fangs and teeth,” Harvard paleontologist Karma Nanglu described in The New York Times

These animals disappeared hundreds of millions of years ago. But recently analyzed fossils from Morocco have shown that the predators, which measured one to two centimeters in length, lasted much longer than experts expected.

The fossils of the new species come from a Moroccan site known for the remains of marine animals such as trilobites, often colored in shades of red and orange. Some of them also have subtle features of soft tissues, which are rarely preserved. The scientists gave the new animal the name tsering, which comes from the Tibetan word meaning “long life”.

Minimal changes

“This new study adds to the growing body of evidence that many members of Cambrian communities thrived in the subsequent period and were not rapidly replaced as previous models suggested,” said paleontologist Jean-Bernard Caron, who was not involved in the study published in the journal Biology Letters.

Research suggests that selkirkia worms have undergone only minor changes during their 40 million years on the sea floor. They lived in tubes that they created from secreted material.

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“It’s like a Dune sandworm built a huge house around itself,” Nanglu said. Most likely, as more free-swimming predators began to threaten the worms, they got rid of these tubes and adopted more active means of escape, such as burrowing.

Source: ČTK, The New York Times

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The article is in Czech

Tags: Dunelike sandworms existed dimensions nightmare prey

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