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

Interior Health reported 33 new COVID-19 cases on March 5. (Black Press Files)
Interior Health reports 33 new COVID-19 cases on March 5

Over 300,000 vaccine doses have been administered provincewide.

Nelson's Diana Morita Cole is the keynote speaker of the KDocsFF film festival. Photo: Submitted
Nelson author Diana Morita Cole to speak at film festival

She will share a virtual stage with actor George Takei

Some of the folks behind Angel Flight East Kootenay: Todd Weselake is a director, partner and pilot while Brent Bidston is the president and lead pilot of the not-for-profit. Pictured here with their older plane, they hope to get an upgrade for thanks to RDEK funding. (Image courtesy of Angel Flight East Kootenay)
Angel Flight secures RDEK funding for next five years

$100,000 will go to the not-for-profit each year, with the funds to be used to acquire a larger plane

The James C Richardson Pipe Band marches in a Remembrance Day parade on Nov. 11, 2019 in Chilliwack. Wednesday, March 10 is International Bagpipe Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of March 7 to 13

International Bagpipe Day, Wash Your Nose Day and Kidney Day are all coming up this week

More than ever before, as pandemic conditions persist, the threat of data breaches and cyberattacks continues to grow, according to SFU professor Michael Parent. (Pixabay photo)
SFU expert unveils 5 ways the COVID-19 pandemic has forever changed cybersecurity

Recognizing these changes is the first in a series of steps to mitigate them once the pandemic ends, and before the next: Michael Parent

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

Kevin Haughton is the founder/technologist of Courtenay-based Clearflo Solutions. Scott Stanfield photo
Islander aims Clearflo clean drinking water system at Canada’s remote communities

Entrepreneur $300,000 mobile system can produce 50,000 litres of water in a day, via solar energy

Malawian police guard AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines after the shipment arrived in Lilongwe, Malawi, Friday March 5, 2021. Canada is expecting its first shipments of AstraZeneca vaccine next week. (Associated Press/Thoko Chikondi)
B.C.’s daily COVID-19 cases climb to 634 Friday, four more deaths

Currently 255 people in hospital, 66 in intensive care

A crashed helicopter is seen near Mt. Gardner on Bowen Island on Friday March 5, 2021. Two people were taken to hospital in serious but stable condition after the crash. (Irene Paulus/contributed)
2 people in serious condition after helicopter goes down on Bowen Island

Unclear how many passengers aboard and unclear where the helicopter was going

Surrey Pretrial in Newton. (Photo: Tom Zytaruk)
B.C. transgender inmate to get human rights hearing after being held in mostly male jail

B.C. Human Rights Tribunal member Amber Prince on March 3 dismissed the pretrial’s application to have Makayla Sandve’s complaint dismissed

Supporters rally outside court as Pastor James Coates of GraceLife Church is in court to appeal bail conditions, after he was arrested for holding day services in violation of COVID-19 rules, in Edmonton, Alta., on Thursday March 4, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
‘Law remains valid:’ Pastor accused of violating health orders to remain in jail

The Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms is representing the pastor

The Netflix logo on an iPhone. B.C. delayed imposing sales tax on digital services and sweetened carbonated beverages as part of its response to COVID-19. Those taxes take effect April 1, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP, Matt Rourke
B.C. applies 7% sales tax on streaming, vaping, sweet drinks April 1

Measures from 2020 budget were delayed due to COVID-19

Most Read