A 508 million year old lobster-like ancient species has been discovered by researchers from the University of Toronto, with the creature flowing through Canadian waters 250 million years before the dinosaurs appeared.
The newly-found lobster-like species, which has been given the strange name of Yawunik kootenayi, additionally appears to have some evolutionary connections with today’s butterflies and spiders. Scientists found the fossil in the Canadian Burgess Shale store, a fossil-rich area that has been the site of numerous different findings previously. This specific discovery was uncovered in the Marble Canyon site.
Experts believe that Yawunik had three long hooks growing from its front much like today’s shrimp or creepy crawly species have antennae developing from their heads.
Two of Yawunik’s claws were outfitted with restricting teeth, thought to have developed to help the sea creature hunting and catching prey.
As per PhD applicant Cedric Aria from the University of Toronto, the new finding has served to expand the viewpoint on the predatory propensities and the anatomy of first arthropods.
Aria, the main author behind the exploration study that followed the discovery of the ancient sea creature, included that while the fossil doesn’t display some of the developed arthropod qualities that made it to current species, it is still a part of the family on account of its jointed extremities, divided body and outer skeleton.
“Unlike insects or crustaceans, Yawunik did not possess additional appendages in the head that were specifically modified to process food. Evolution resulted here in a combination of adaptations onto the frontal-most appendage of this creature, maybe because such modifications were easier to acquire.”
The strange name given to the newly-discovered species originates from the Ktunaxa, a population who have been living in the Kootenay area where the Marble Canyon is located. Yawunik is a mythological character in Ktunaxa legends, an ocean animal that was dire and brought about havoc on other marine animals until the sea animals united together to face the monster.
The study lead author noted that Yawunik appeared to be the ideal choice of a name taking into account its profile as a marine animal, particularly since the research group felt that it was suitable to honor the Ktunaxa culture as well. The executive of traditional knowledge and language for the Ktunaxa Nation Council, Donald Sam appreciated the gesture and the researchers for highlighting how significant the people’s history is inside its region.
Image Source: Phys.org