Worm-Like Animal Species Discovered In Canada

Posted: Jan 31 2017, 8:34am CST | by , Updated: Jan 31 2017, 8:49am CST, in News | Latest Science News

Worm-Like Animal Species Discovered in Canada
An illustration of Ovatiovermis. Credit: Danielle Dufault, Royal Ontario Museum© Royal Ontario Museum

The creature belongs to Lobopodia, a now-extinct group of animals resembling worms with legs

Researchers have discovered a new species of lobopodia or worm-like animal while excavating a fossil-rich site in Canadian Rocky Mountains. The species may have been a relative of modern day tardigrades or water bears and can provide more insight into the evolution of this eight-legged, segmented micro-animal.

The new species, called Ovatiovermis cribratus is a soft-bodied animal that resembles a worm with legs. The species dates back to Cambrian period, a geological period stretching 541 to 485 million years ago.

“Ovatiovermis is no longer than my thumb with all limbs stretched out and is only known from two specimens. However this new species provides fantastic new insights into the ecology and relationship of lobopodians, a group of mainly Cambrian marine invertebrates which are key to our understanding of modern tardigrades, onychophorans and the largest group of animals on Earth - the arthropods.” Lead author Dr Jean-Bernard Caron from University of Toronto said.

In the study published in journal BMC Evolutionary Biology, researches describe the species and what it looked like when it was alive.

Ovatiovermis had evolved strong recurved claws on its back limbs that would have been allowed to stand almost upright. The limbs on the front of body would then have been used to collect food from water and to bring it closer to the mouth. To researchers’ surprise, the species does not have any toughened spines or plates on its body, which are commonly found in other lobopodians and protect them from other animals. It leads to the question of how Ovatiovermis were able to guard against predators.

Lobopodians comprise more than 30 known species of extinct worm-like animals. Despite the fact that their fossils have been uncovered from various Palaeozoic marine deposits around the globe, their ecology is still poorly understood.

The newfound odd-looking creature can expand researchers' perspective on the origin of this particular species and its relationship with other lobopodians.

The species is one of the just three lobopodians to be found in famous Burgess Shale site in Canadian Rockies of British Columbia, Canada.

Jean-Bernard Caron says.“The Burgess Shale is certainly no stranger of already bizarre-looking creatures, but this new species is certainly one of the oddest.”

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<a href="/latest_stories/all/all/47" rel="author">Hira Bashir</a>
The latest discoveries in science are the passion of Hira Bashir (). With years of experience, she is able to spot the most interesting new achievements of scientists around the world and cover them in easy to understand reporting.




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