PHOTOS: SFU researchers find evidence of ‘giant’ predatory worms on ocean floor

The top part of the fossil burrow, seen from the side, with feathery lines from the disturbance of the soil – thought to be caused by the worm pulling prey into the burrow. (Paleoenvironntal Sediment Laboratory/National Taiwan University)The top part of the fossil burrow, seen from the side, with feathery lines from the disturbance of the soil – thought to be caused by the worm pulling prey into the burrow. (Paleoenvironntal Sediment Laboratory/National Taiwan University)
In these photos released Thursday, Jan. 21, 2021, Simon Fraser University researchers (from left) Shahin Dashtgard, Ludvig Lowemark, Yu Yen Pan and Masakazu Nara, stand in Yehliu Geopark, Taiwan (Paleoenvironntal Sediment Laboratory/National Taiwan University)In these photos released Thursday, Jan. 21, 2021, Simon Fraser University researchers (from left) Shahin Dashtgard, Ludvig Lowemark, Yu Yen Pan and Masakazu Nara, stand in Yehliu Geopark, Taiwan (Paleoenvironntal Sediment Laboratory/National Taiwan University)
In these photos released Thursday, Jan. 21, 2021, the researchers discovered the trace fossil burrow of a two-metre predatory worm. (Paleoenvironntal Sediment Laboratory/National Taiwan University)In these photos released Thursday, Jan. 21, 2021, the researchers discovered the trace fossil burrow of a two-metre predatory worm. (Paleoenvironntal Sediment Laboratory/National Taiwan University)
The upper part of the burrow is pictured. (Paleoenvironntal Sediment Laboratory/National Taiwan University)The upper part of the burrow is pictured. (Paleoenvironntal Sediment Laboratory/National Taiwan University)

A two-metre long fossil discovery has led researchers at Simon Fraser University (SFU) to conclude large predatory worms once slunk around the ocean floor.

According to SFU student Yu Yen Pan, the trace fossil was found in a rocky area in Yehliu Geopark, Taiwan – and encapsulated for more than 20 million years.

“I was fascinated by this monster burrow at first glance,” said Pan.

“Compared to other trace fossils which are usually only a few tens of centimetres long, this one was huge; two-metres long and two-to-three centimetres in diameter.”

Not only was the fossil huge in size, the burrow possessed never-before-studied features, including feather-like structures.

The team compared burrows with those from marine biologists before concluding the fossil belonged to a “giant, ambush-predatory worm,” said Pan.

SFU professor Shahin Dashtgard said the worm must have secreted mucus to rebuild its burrow after feeding, as high concentrations of iron were found nearby.

The discovery is described in a study published this week in Scientific Reports.

READ MORE: B.C. researchers identify new tool to trace salmon at sea

Today, the only similar marine predator that exists is a large modern-day Bobbit worm much like the remnants of what was discovered in Taiwan.

It slinks around the Indo-Pacific, grabbing prey with its jaws and retreating back into its seafloor burrow.

The predator l is also referred to as a “sand striker.”



sarahleonagrochowski@gmail.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism? Make a donation here.

AnimalsScienceSFU

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A nurse performs a test on a patient at a drive-in COVID-19 clinic in Montreal, on Wednesday, October 21, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
36 new cases of COVID-19, one death in Interior Health

The number of active cases in the region is at 366

Over the last few years, over 300 hectares have been treated at the city’s southern boundary for wildfire risk reduction. Photo courtesy BC Government.
Wildfire mitigation projects reducing risk around city boundaries

Over the last few years, there has been over 300 hectares of… Continue reading

Pictured is the new gallery space at 1401 5th Street North in Cranbrook. Artists from across the Kootenays are invited to take part in our upcoming exhibit, ‘Kootenay’s Best’.
Cranbrook Arts announces premiere exhibit at 1401 Art Space

Cranbrook Arts is inviting artists from across the Kootenays to submit a proposal for their upcoming exhibit, ‘Kootenay’s Best’

Kootenay-Columbia MP Rob Morrison. File photo
COMMON’S CORNER: Challenging the government on vaccine availability and more

The first of a quarterly column from Kootenay-Columbia MP Rob Morrison

Pictured above: Jason Hawke, Jen Ross and Brenna Baker.
Not Alone campaign gets fundraising boost from Pink Shirt Day

A fundraising campaign for a walk-in health and wellness centre for youth… Continue reading

B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix and provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry head for the B.C. legislature press theatre to give a daily update on the COVID-19 pandemic, April 6, 2020. (B.C. government)
B.C. nears 300,000 COVID-19 vaccinations, essential workers next

564 new cases, four deaths, no new outbreaks Thursday

Walter Gretzky father of hockey hall-of-famer Wayne Gretzky waves to fans as the Buffalo Sabres play against the Toronto Maple Leafs during third period NHL hockey action in Toronto on Tuesday, Jan. 17, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Walter Gretzky, father of the Great One, dies at 82

Canada’s hockey dad had battled Parkinson’s disease and other health issues

Kelowna General Hospital (File photo)
Second death reported in Kelowna General Hospital COVID-19 outbreak

A total of seven cases have been identified at the hospital: six patients and one staff

Municipal Affairs Minister Josie Osborne speaks in the B.C. legislature, March 4, 2021. (Hansard TV)
B.C. Liberals, NDP sing in harmony on local election reforms

Bill regulates paid canvassers, allows people in condo buildings

(National Emergency Management Agency)
No tsunami risk to B.C. from powerful New Zealand earthquake: officials

An 8.1 magnitude earthquake shook the north of New Zealand Thursday morning

(AP Photo/Richard Vogel, File)
Pandemic stress, isolation key factors as to why Canadians turned to cannabis, alcohol

Study found that isolation played key role in Canadians’ substance use

Grand Forks’ Gary Smith stands in front of his Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster float. Photo: Submitted
Grand Forks’ Flying Spaghetti Monster leader still boiling over driver’s licence photo

Gary Smith, head of the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster of B.C., said he has since spoken to lawyers

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Most Read