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

The City of Victoria filed a petition with the Supreme Court of B.C. March 2 to have it clarify whether, under the Trustee Act, Beacon Hill Park can be used for temporary sheltering. (Black Press Media file photo)
Victoria asks court to clarify if Beacon Hill Park can be used for sheltering

City of Victoria filed petition to Supreme Court of B.C. March 2

The application proposing to rezone Western Speedway was passed by Langford’s planning, zoning and affordable housing committee Feb 8. A petition has since been started by residents of Trudie Terrace, hoping to stop the proposed residential portion of the development plan. (CBRE Victoria)
Petition opposing Western Speedway development proposal gains steam

Save Thetis Heights Neighborhood petition aims to stop extension of Trudie Terrace

Activists from the Fairy Creek Blockades hold the injunction application notice which was submitted by logging company Teal Jones to the B.C. Supreme Court. The application, which asks to have blockaders removed from the sites that stop access to cut blocks, is set to be heard on March 4. (Photo contributed/Joshua Wright)
Activists hunker down to protect Fairy Creek near Port Renfrew from logging

Forest company Teal Cedar applies for injunction to remove seven-month-old blockades

Older rental apartments are prime candidates for renovations, and could result in lost affordable housing stock. (Zoë Ducklow photo)
B.C.’s renoviction overhaul a good start, but won’t preserve affordable stock, lawyer says

And still no protection for people who can’t pay rent due to COVID-19

(Photo by Marissa Baecker/Shoot the Breeze)
B.C. WHL teams to hit the ice with Kelowna, Kamloops hub cities

Kelowna, Kamloops centres chosen to host B.C. WHL teams for 24-game regular season

The victim of the homicide on Cowichan Lake Road early Monday morning was 17 years old, and was stabbed in the incident. (File photo)
Duncan homicide victim was 17 years old

RCMP report that teenager was stabbed

(File photo)
RCMP arrest man after report of gun-toting threat-maker near Parksville schools

43-year-old man taken into custody; students at nearby schools were asked to stay inside

The machines are akin to ATMs and allow drug users at risk of overdose to get hydromorphone pills dispensed to them after their palm has been scanned to identify its unique vein pattern. (CANADIAN PRESS)
Feds dole out $3.5M for ‘vending machines’ to dispense safer opioids in B.C.

The machines are located in four cities across Canada, including Vancouver and Victoria

Kelowna’s lakefront visitor centre is one of 130 around the province. Tourism businesses have been hardest hit by COVID-19 restrictions on travel. (Destination B.C.)
Tourism, small business getting COVID-19 help, B.C. minister says

$300M grant program has delivered $50 million so far

The incident happened in downtown Castlegar. Photo: Betsy Kline
Castlegar teen recounts stabbing after stranger breaks into grandmother’s house

The unnamed teen survived a terrifying attack Feb. 21

Most Read