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

Longtime basketball coach Allison McNeill is worried that the COVID-19 pandemic will adversely affect high-school athletes with university athletic aspirations. (Garrett James/Langley Events Centre photo)
COVID-19: Young athletes scrambling for scholarships, opportunities amid pandemic

‘They lost their whole Grade 12 year’ says Semiahmoo basketball coach Allison McNeill

When his owner had knee surgery, Kevin, 2, was able to continue to go for walks thanks to volunteers from Elder Dog Canada. (Contributed photo)
White Rock woman among dozens in Lower Mainland to benefit from Elder Dog program

Dog-care organization has a fleet of volunteer walkers ready, but requires more clients to serve

Travis Selje with Rex, the family dog he got to enjoy for the final six months of his life. (Submitted photo)
Defence says evidence ‘compelling, overwhelming’ to acquit Surrey woman in deadly crash

Epileptic seizure caused fatal crash that killed Travis Selje, lawyer argues in final submissions

(Delta Police Department photo)
Delta Police searching for driver in hit-and-run

Police looking for witnesses to the incident that happened about 2 p.m. Feb. 23 on Ladner Trunk Road

FILE – A COVID-19 vaccine being prepared. (Olivia Sullivan/Sound Publishing)
B.C. seniors 80 years and older to get COVID vaccine details over next 2 weeks: Henry

Province is expanding vaccine workforce as officials ramp up age-based rollout

Dr. Bonnie Henry talk about the next steps in B.C.'s COVID-19 Immunization Plan during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Friday, January 22, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
456 new COVID-19 cases in B.C., 2 deaths

Since January 2020, 78,278 have tested positive for the novel coronavirus in B.C.

A health-care worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a UHN COVID-19 vaccine clinic in Toronto on Thursday, January 7, 2021. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette)
Vaccinating essential workers before seniors in B.C. could save lives: experts

A new study says the switch could also save up to $230 million in provincial health-care costs

The late Michael Gregory, 57, is accused of sexually exploiting six junior high students between 1999 and 2005. (Pixabay)
Former Alberta teacher accused of sexually assaulting students found dead in B.C.

Mounties say Michael Gregory’s death has been deemed ‘non-suspicious’

A woman boards a transit bus through rear doors, in Vancouver, on Friday, March 20, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
TransLink slow to reveal crucial details about ransomware attack, says union

Union says company took months to admit what info was stolen, including SIN and bank account details

According to a new poll, a majority of Canadians want to see illicit drugs decriminalized. (THE ASSOCIATED PRESS)
Majority of Canadians think it’s high time to decriminalize illicit drugs: poll

More than two-times the B.C. residents know someone who died from an overdose compared to rest of Canada

Photograph By @KAYLAXANDERSON
VIDEO: Lynx grabs lunch in Kamloops

A lynx surprises a group of ducks and picks one off for lunch

(Black Press Media file photo)
B.C. residents can reserve provincial camp sites starting March 8

B.C. residents get priority access to camping reservations in province

Two women were arrested in Nanaimo for refusing to wear masks and causing disturbance on a BC Ferries vessel. (File photo)
B.C. ferry passengers arrested and fined for disturbance, refusing to wear masks

Police said woman threatened their pensions in Feb. 21 incident aboard Nanaimo-bound boat

Most Read