This titanic predator ruled prehistoric seas. Scientists have described it from fossils

This titanic predator ruled prehistoric seas. Scientists have described it from fossils

It was a bizarre creature that had titanic dimensions at the time and also killing abilities.

Half a billion years ago, the sea was full of creatures that looked more like aliens than the sea creatures we know from today’s seas. One of the strangest was an animal growing half a meter long.

Titan of the ancient seas

The creature was described by paleontologists Jean-Bernard Caron and Joseph Moysiuk from the Royal Canadian Museum in Ontario. They gave the Titan’s arthropod an apt name – Titanokorys gainesi.

The creatures of the time, most of which would fit in the human palm, grew many times over. His fossils were discovered in Kootenay National Park, located in the Canadian Rockies. They published a study with an analysis of the find and a description of the creature on Wednesday in a magazine Royal Society Open Science.

One of the fossils of Titanokoryse. | source:
Profimedia

The titanium core belongs to the order arthropodswho spread in the seas after the Cambrian explosion 540 million years ago.

The Cambrian explosion is a sign for the sudden rise of multicellular animals from the Cambrian period. The increase in the size and complexity of the creatures of the time caused an increase in oxygen in the atmosphere and water, which allowed collagen to efficiently connect cells.

“The sheer size of this animal is absolutely stunning, this is one of the largest Cambrian animals ever found,” writes Jean-Bernard Caron at the beginning of the study.

Titanokorys had the compound eyes we know of insects, a large head that took up two-thirds of its length, and a pineapple-shaped mouth lined with sharp teeth. He was equipped with barbed-clawed claws to catch prey and had a number of fins on his body to swim with.

Its carapace, which resembled a turtle, suggests that it has adapted to life at the bottom of the sea. Apparently he fed on animals that buried themselves in the ocean floor, such as worms.


profimedia-0631056260

Titanium core gain. Top view of carapace and flaps. | source:
Profimedia

“These strange creatures have had a major impact on Cambrian’s seabed ecosystems. Their claws looked like a rake and were undoubtedly effective. Whatever the Titanokorys caught with their thorns brought to their mouths. And the huge dorsal carapace could act as a plow at the bottom, “Caron said at the presentation of the study.

A look half a billion years ago

Titanokoryse fossils were found in Marble Canyon, which was the site of many discoveries of Cambrian fossils more than half a billion years old.

One of these discoveries was the Cambroraster falcatus, named after the Star Wars Millennium Falcon, which it resembles in its shell.

In the video you can see both creatures – Cambroraster and then a slightly larger Titanokoryse.

Resources:

Royal Society Open Science

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