Huge fossil of an unknown animal found in the canadian mountains

Huge fossil of an unknown animal found in the canadian mountains
Huge fossil of an unknown animal found in the canadian mountains

In a piece of ancient rock from the Canadian Rockies, scientists have discovered a fossil of a huge arthropic Cambrian period.

The value of the find lies not only in the outstanding size of the fossil (at least 50 cm in length), but also in the fact that the prehistoric animal belongs to a previously unknown species, now called Titanokorys gainesi.

The half-meter Titanokorys was a real giant compared to the rest of the animals that lived on the planet half a billion years ago. Let us explain that most of them in those distant times rarely reached a size larger than a human little finger.

"The sheer size of this animal is mind-boggling, it is one of the largest Cambrian animals ever found," says co-author Jean-Bernard Caron of the Royal Ontario Museum.

EurekAlert Portal! reports that from an evolutionary point of view Titanokorys belongs to the extinct order of arthropods Radiodonta. The most famous representative of this order is anomalokaris ("unusual shrimp"), which reached a length of one meter.

Fossilized imprint of Titanokorys gainesi close up.

Photo by Jean-Bernard Caron / Royal Ontario Museum.

Like other radio donts, Titanokorys possessed faceted eyes that gave him excellent vision, a round mouth bordered by many teeth, two spiked pincers at the bottom of the head, and a row of fins along the body.


T. gainesi floated with the help of peculiar "flaps" located along the body.

Joe Moysiuk / Twitter.

Another curious circumstance: Titanokorys belongs to the Hurdiidae family of radio donts, whose representatives are distinguished by an incredibly large and elongated head section covered with a shell.

"Their heads are so long in relation to their bodies that these animals are little more than floating heads," added second author Joe Moysiuk of the University of Toronto.

Why these ancient arthropods needed such large heads, scientists can only guess. However, the flattened head carapace of Titanokorys suggests that this species was well adapted to benthic life.

The fossil was found in the Burgess Shale, a mountain formation in Yoho National Park, Canada. This formation is rich in fossils of the Cambrian period and, in general, pleases paleontologists with regular finds on its territory.

The research team removes a slate containing the fossil.

Photo by Jean-Bernard Caron / Royal Ontario Museum.

By the way, in the same Burgess shale, another Titanokorys related species, Cambroraster falcatus, was previously found. We wrote in detail about the discovery of this unusual animal earlier.

The work describing the new species T. gainesi was published in the Royal Society Open Science.

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