STATES CHRONICLE – Paleontologists discovered the remains of a small weirdly-looking sea predator in the Burgess Shale deposit, Canada. What was remarkable about this creature was its size and appearance. The creature was about an inch long or even shorter, and lived 508 million years ago. Although it was so small, the design of its head was intricate, revealing it was actually an incredibly fearful creature.
The sea predator is an ancestor of all chelicerates
This weird sea predator was called Habelia optata, and is an ancestor to the now-extinct sea scorpion, but also to today’s scorpions, spiders, and horseshoe crabs. The fossils were spotted in the deposit a long time ago but, after a century of studies and analyses, researchers could finally identify the species it belonged to and its characteristics.
The sea predator was an arthropod, and these creatures are split in two different subgroups, mandibulates and chelicerates. Mandibulates have two prominent mandibles with which they grab and squash their food, as well as antennas. Chelicerates also have some appendages attached to their mouth used to cut their food. According to the researchers, the weird creature was an ancestor of the chelicerates.
The many appendages it had on its head made it a fierce predator
By looking at the sea predator, we can understand the evolution of this group of arthropods. The analysis revealed the creature was covered in spines, and had the body split in three. Also, it had many pairs of limbs, which were placed differently than they are nowadays. However, this explains why some species have some remains of ancient limbs still attached to their bodies.
What makes the sea predator remarkable is the anatomy of its head. It has a series of seven appendages with different function. Five of them had teeth and were used for chewing, one of them had bristles and could serve for grasping, and the last one was feebler and only had a tactile function. These impressive tools made it a fierce predator, as it could grab and rip open its prey.