Half Billion-Year-Old Fossil Clue to How Worms Evolved
The incredibly well-preserved fossil is helping scientists understand how some of Earth's first worms evolved.
More than 500 million years ago, in what is today Kootenay National Park in British Columbia, a fast-moving underwater mudslide killed and trapped a small worm.
That's one theory Karma Nanglu, a researcher at the University of Toronto, has for a recently found fossil that's in what he describes as shockingly good condition.
The fossil is a new species of bristle worm, known scientifically as Kootenayscolex barbarensis, described in the journal Current Biology. It's small, only about two centimeters long, and flanked by hundreds of tiny hair-sized bristles called chaetae.
At its head, it has two tube-like features called palps, which Nanglu says could have been used to feel out the ground in front of it. During the Precambrian