Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Fossil of weird, ancient predator found in museum basement

A 500-million-year-old fossil of a seemingly hooded little predator (about the size of a shrimp) was discovered "lurking in the depths of the Royal Ontario Museum's fossil collection." (Globe and Mail) The little monster has a couple of claws, eyes (they had those half-a-billion years ago!?) several layers of teeth and a "hard carapace that jutted out from its head." What's it for? The hard carapace? Scientists have no idea.

The fossil was originally pulled from a pit full of fossils in Yoho National Park (British Columbia) in 1909. Over the last century, it's been misidentified a few times. For example, the mouth fossil was thought to be a jellyfish. And it was only recently that they put the whole thing together.

But give researchers some credit. The fossil, what one expert described as "roadkill," was almost completely flattened by hundreds of millions of years of geologic activity. And when a mangled specimen like that comes in, "it takes imagination and patience" to see what they truly are.

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I started pound360 to channel my obsession with vitamins, running and the five senses. Eventually, I got bored focusing on all that stuff, so I came back from a one month hiatus in May of 2007 (one year after launching Pound360) and broadened my mumblings here to include all science.