500-million-year-old species of marine animal discovered in fossil in Canada: NPR

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A reconstruction of the Titanokorys sheaths, a new extinct species of marine animal discovered in Canada.

Lars Fields / Royal Ontario Museum


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Lars Fields / Royal Ontario Museum


A reconstruction of the Titanokorys sheaths, a new extinct species of marine animal discovered in Canada.

Lars Fields / Royal Ontario Museum

Paleontologists in Canada discovered a new species of marine animal that was 1 1/2 feet long and shaped like a soccer ball, with a large protective shell on its head, a toothed mouth, and a pair of claws thorny.

(It’s off, so you don’t have to worry about one of them rubbing against your leg at the beach. Read on.)

The new species – nicknamed the Titanokorys sheaths – is part of a group of animals that has disappeared since the Cambrian period around 500 million years ago.

In the mountains of Kootenay National Park, the Royal Ontario Museum field team extracts a slab of shale containing a fossil of Titanokorys sheaths.

Jean-Bernard Caron / Royal Ontario Museum


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Jean-Bernard Caron / Royal Ontario Museum


In the mountains of Kootenay National Park, the Royal Ontario Museum field team extracts a slab of shale containing a fossil of Titanokorys sheaths.

Jean-Bernard Caron / Royal Ontario Museum

According to scientists at the Royal Ontario Museum, who discovered the species in a fossil in Kootenay National Park, located in the Canadian Rockies, the Titanokorys were a giant at a time when most sea creatures reached the size of ‘a little finger or smaller.

“The size of this animal is absolutely breathtaking, it is one of the largest animals of the Cambrian period ever found,” said Jean-Bernard Caron, Richard M. Ivey curator of the museum of invertebrate paleontology, in a report.

The Titanokorys belong to a subgroup of primitive arthropods called hurdiids, which have long heads and a three-part shell, a kind of hard outer shell.

A reconstruction of the Titanokorys sheaths, seen from the front.

Lars Fields / Royal Ontario Museum


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Lars Fields / Royal Ontario Museum


A reconstruction of the Titanokorys sheaths, seen from the front.

Lars Fields / Royal Ontario Museum

“The head is so long in relation to the body that these animals are really little more than swimming heads,” said Joe Moysiuk, PhD from the University of Toronto. co-author student the study of the new species released this week.

Scientists said the Titanokorys’ broad, flat head suggests it swam close to the seabed, using its forelimbs to pick up prey towards its mouth.

A similar species, discovered in the same area in 2018, is named on Cambroaster falcatus, because scientists thought its head shell looked like the Millennium Falcon, a ship from the movie Star wars.


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