Is that this a fossilized lair of the dreaded bobbit worm?

The head of a gruesome yet colorful worm projects from the seafloor.

Enlarge (credit score: Getty Pictures)

To not toot my very own horn, however I do know a factor or two about weird animals. And I can let you know with out a trace of doubt that the bobbit worm is by far essentially the most weird. Rising to 10 ft lengthy, the worm digs a burrow within the seafloor, leaving solely its bear lure of a mouth protruding. When a fish approaches, the bobbit worm shoots out of its burrow with astonishing velocity, snapping its jaws round its prey. With violent tugs, the worm then drags the sufferer down into its lair, the place it eats the fish alive. (Oh, there’s video.)

Now scientists say they’ve discovered proof that an ancestor of the bobbit worm might have been menacing fish 20 million years in the past. Writing right now within the journal Scientific Reviews, the researchers argue that lots of of fossilized worm burrows, present in what’s now Taiwan, present telltale indicators of battle. They have not discovered the worms themselves, thoughts you, as boneless critters like worms (often called invertebrates, as a result of they lack spinal columns) very hardly ever fossilize. As a substitute, they found hint fossils, geological options that trace on the habits of historical animals, in sandstone that was as soon as a seafloor.

“That is, we consider, the primary time that we have really discovered a hint fossil that reveals how invertebrates like worms had been feeding on vertebrates,” says Nationwide Taiwan College sedimentologist Ludvig Löwemark, co-author of the brand new paper. “As a result of, usually, what we discover within the sedimentary report is animals which might be shifting by the sediment.” Invertebrates, for example, may dig tunnels by the ocean backside and pump water by their burrows, filtering out particles. “However this can be a report of a way more lively habits,” he continues. “The worms had been really hiding within the sediment, leaping out, catching their prey, after which dragging this prey down into the sediment.”

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