Researchers identify new species of ancient marine worm

Researchers identify new species of ancient marine worm

A fresh analysis of specimens stored at the Royal Ontario Museum for more than 20 years helped researchers identify a new species of ancient marine worm, according to a new study.

The specimens were collected by Canadian scientist Derek Armstrong from a remote corner of northern Ontario in 1994. These specimens were part of 400-million-year-old rocks, in which a team of researchers from the Royal Ontario Museum, University of Bristol, and Lund University of Sweden discovered jaws from the Polychaeta.

The Polychaeta worms, which have tiny jaws ranging in size from 0.1 millimeters t 2 millimeters, are believed to be the marine relatives of earthworms.

After seeing this surprising size difference, and some other peculiar structural features, the researched concluded that they discovered a new species, dubbed Websterprion armstrongi. The newly discovered ancient species believed to have measured more than three feet in length.

Assistant curator David Rudkin of the Royal Ontario Museum said, “This is an excellent example of the importance of looking in remote and unexplored areas, and scrutinizing museum collections for overlooked gems.”

The researchers also likened W. armstrongi to certain living members of the family Eunicidae, which can grow up to 20 feet in length but merely 1 inch in width.

The researchers reported their findings in the most recent (Feb. 22nd) edition of the journal Nature.


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