A team of researchers from Lund University in Sweden, University of Bristol, and the Royal Ontario Museum has discovered the remains of an ancient worm that measured about 3 feet in length. The giant worm is estimated to have lived some 400 million years ago and named Websteroprion armstrongi. The most distinguishing feature of this ancient worm is its giant jaws which must have been used in snapping up preys.
Similarity between this extinct giant worm and Bobbit worms
The researchers published their findings in the journal Scientific Reports and it details how this extinct worm must have lived and its similarity to Bobbit worm. Bobbit worms are still in existence today and they burrow into sands at the bottom of the ocean. They can grow as long as 10 feet and feed by shooting out of the sand on the ocean floor to catch passing fish and squids and octopuses. A fraction of their body shoots out of the sand to catch prey which is then dragged into the sand where it is consumed, The Verge writes.
First discovered in 1994 and then rediscovered at the museum
Eurekalert reports that Derek Armstrong of the Ontario Geological Survey first discovered the fossils of the ancient giant worm in June 1994. He was investigating rock fissures when he came across the fossils, but he simply brought them back and deposited them at the Royal Ontario Museum where they remained forgotten until researchers came across them again. The authors of the paper later discovered that Websteroprion armstrongi existed 400 million years and is now extinct.
A curator at the museum stated the importance of searching "remote and unexplored areas for finding new exciting things, but also the importance of scrutinizing museum collections for overlooked gems." This newly discovered giant worm is fast becoming a mystery of nature. However, many more mysteries of nature continue to be discovered on land, in the deep sea, and in deep space everyday.
The name of the extinct giant worm is named after Armstrong, its discoverer, and Alex Webster, a famous bassist with Cannibal Corpse, a Death Metal band. The three authors of the paper are all recognized for their deep interest in music, despite their expertise with paleontology. They authors continue to scour the Ontario museum for overlooked items that had never been researched for decades.