Prehistoric worm with huge jaws discovered
Scientists have identified a previously unknown species of primordial giant worm with huge snapping jaws.
This terrifying ocean-dweller lived around 400 million years ago and had jaws over one centimeter in length - the largest ever seen in a species of worm. By comparison, the jaws of most worm fossils are mere millimetres in size and have to be viewed under a microscope.
At up to a meter in length, this remarkable species, which has been named Websteroprion armstrongi, is thought to have been similar to today's Bobbit worms - a type of ambush predator which lives on the ocean floor and uses its powerful jaws to grab unsuspecting prey.
"Gigantism in animals is an alluring and ecologically important trait, usually associated with advantages and competitive dominance," said study lead author Mats Eriksson.
"It is, however, a poorly understood phenomenon among marine worms and has never before been demonstrated in a fossil species. The new species demonstrates a unique case of polychaete gigantism in the Palaeozoic, some 400 million years ago.