Ancient Toothy ‘Penis Worm’ Is Found, But What Scientists Found Inside It Left Them Stunned


May 7, 2015 7:45am PST

Scientists were stunned when they recently discovered a toothy “penis worm” which dated back to the Cambrian period, making it about 505 million years-old.

After looking inside the fossilized penis worm, which is also known as a priapulid, researchers were stunned when they discovered a new species.

According to Fox News, paleontologist Charles Walcott first discovered O. prolifica in 1911 in a geological formation in the Canadian rockies called the Burgess Shale. This formation contained many strange creatures like trilobites and velvet worms which date back to the Cambrian period.

Only measuring at a few inches long, O. prolifica lived in small burrows and had a proboscis which was lined with rows of teeth, hooks, and spines. Because their mouthparts could be inverted into the creature’s trunks, they could feast on hard shelled creatures called hyolithids. O. prolifica may have also cannibalized other penis worms at times.

A new report from researchers led by Martin Smith of the University of Cambridge in England states that when they compared the fossils of 40 O. prolifica fossils found in the Upper Walcott Quarry with 70 specimens from the Lower Walcott Quarry. They found enough differences between the teeth of the two sets of fossils that scientists are now considering declaring a new species.

An example of these differences is the teeth from the second group of specimens had some teeth with a central prong that was flanked by two skinny, hollow “denticles.” In contrast, up to eight denticles were often found in the corresponding teeth from the first group.

This is a major scientific find, and it may very well result in a new species from millions of years ago being discovered.


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