This 507-Million-Year-Old Sea Monster Is The Oldest Arthropod With Pincers

Posted: Apr 27 2017, 5:20am CDT | by , in News | Latest Science News

This 507-Million-Year-Old Sea Monster is the Oldest Arthropod with Pincers
A life reconstruction of Tokummia katalepsis showing a pair of large pincers (maxillipeds) at the front for capturing prey, with much of the multisegmented body protected by a broad carapace. Note the small mandibles and subdivided, spinose bases of the trunk limbs: those were critical characters for resolving the evolutionary significance of Tokummia. Credit: Lars Fields. Credit: Royal Ontario Museum
  • Paleontologists identify new 507-million-year-old sea creature with can opener-like pincers

An ancient marine creature that looks like a monster had many appendages and two humongous pincers to boot.

It is 508 million years old and it bears an uncanny resemblance to a lobster. This creature has 50 legs and two claws. Also its shell resembles a tent in its form. This creature is the oldest known arthropod and it had mandibles.

Arthropods are invertebrates that include in their ranks: spiders, insects and crustaceans. Others including ants, flies, crayfish and centipedes have jaws that are called mandibles. These can grip, pulverize and chop food down into bite-size manageable bits. Up until now, it wasn’t clear when these mandibles evolved.

Now though we can say with certainty that mandibles evolved by the Late Cambrian Period. This period was extant 543 million to 490 million years ago. About 21 fossil remains of this creature were found preserved in sedimentary rock in British Columbia, Canada about half a decade ago.

This four inch long creature was labeled as Tokummia katalepsis. The creature looks weird and strange by today’s standards. It legs, which were fifty in number, looked like paddles. They helped it swim and walk in the sea. Its claws had great strength. In fact, they were the strongest ever seen in an arthropod.

The claws probably allowed the sea creature to get a firm and solid grip on soft worms and make a quick meal out of them. It had a bivalve shell and two tiny eyes at the base of antennae. Its serrated mandibles were the main feature though.

Animals with mandibles constitute a large group on earth. This group includes: millipedes, centipedes, shrimps, lobsters, barnacles and several species of insects. This creature was fully formed after the spiders and mites split off from the family tree.

Seen from a particular angle, this creature forms the very base of mandibulates (creatures with mandibles). Its 50 body segments were another important series of features.

They represented an attenuation to the circumstances. This creature allows us a view into the evolution of arthropods. Further observation and study of it will yield rich data regarding the environment that existed 508 million years ago.

The finding of this discovery appeared in a study published in the journal Nature.

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