Researchers in Canada have discovered the remains of a new primitive arthropod species that lived some 500 million years ago and which was a giant compared to most other ocean life at the time.
The newly discovered Titanokorys gainesi reached around half a meter (1.6 feet) in length, according to the Royal Ontario Museum paleontologists.
Most sea creatures half a billion years ago did not grow larger than a human’s pinky.
Fossils of Titanokorys were found in the Kootenay National Park, located in the Canadian Rockies.
The ancient creature had multifaceted eyes like most insects and arthropods, a tooth-lined mouth shaped like a pineapple slice, a pair of claws, and a body with a number of flaps used for swimming.
The Titanokorys also had a large head carapace, similar to the shell of a crab or turtle, according to the researchers.
“The sheer size of this animal is absolutely mind-boggling. This is one of the biggest animals from the Cambrian period ever found,” one of the study’s authors, Jean-Bernard Caron, said in a statement.
The newly discovered creature is part of a group of primitive arthropods called the radiodonts.
The long awaited "mothership" is here. Just out from the @ROMtoronto #BurgessShale team, please welcome #Titanokorys gainesi, a new species of giant #Cambrian #radiodont. #VanierCanada @eebtoronto @UofT @UofT_Palaeo https://t.co/fiq0dckQ28 (open access link should go live soon) pic.twitter.com/sYLlj8Qc4O
— Joe Moysiuk (@CambroJoe) September 8, 2021
“Titanokorys is part of a subgroup of radiodonts, called hurdiids, characterized by an incredibly long head covered by a three-part carapace that took on myriad shapes,” Joe Moysiuk, the study’s co-author said.
“The head is so long relative to the body that these animals are really little more than swimming heads,” Moysiuk added.