A 500-Million-Year Old Fossil Shows Scientists How Worms Evolved

A 500-Million-Year Old Fossil Shows Scientists How Worms Evolved

The finding of the 500-million-year old fossil of a worm is a huge discovery as the scientists consider that they can now observe how worms evolved.

A half billion-year-old worm fossil has been discovered in Kootenay National Park in British Columbia, Canada. Scientists believe that the worm has been killed and buried by a mudslide with more than 500 million years ago. Karma Nanglu, a researcher at the University of Toronto, says that the fossil is in good shape and by studying it scientists can learn exactly how worms evolved.

The fossil represents a new species of worms

The fossil, besides the clues it offers on the evolution of worms, it also represents the discovery of a new prehistoric species of worms – Kootenayscolex barbarensis. This new bristle worm is about 1 inch long and has its body full of small bristle (hair-like structures), scientifically known as chaetae.

This type of bristle worms was walking on the ocean floor feeding with organic material. Scientists believe that the bristle worm they discovered is actually the ancestor of earthworms and leeches as they present similarities.

This is a unique discovery

A bristle worm fossil in such a good shape is very rare to find because the soft tissues that form its body decompose easily. Not the case with the Kootenay discovery.

The 500-million-year old worm the scientists discovered in Kootenay National Park is very well preserved. Therefore, in comparison with previous fossils of annelids found in Greenland, this one is showing all the characteristics of worms’ bodies.

Accordingly, scientists can now state that annelids presented a distinguishable head, so contradicting the previous theories regarding worms evolution.

Kootenay National Park, the site of the discovery

Scientists believe that Kootenay National Park is full of such fossils because half billion years ago this place could have been the perfect habitat for worms. More specifically, only at Marble Canyon there have been discovered more than 500 fossils of worms since 2012 when the site has been discovered.

Karma Nanglu believes that worms are the forms of life from which all the animals evolved and that’s why studying a 500 million-year-old fossil can be a huge piece of the puzzle.

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