Bug Blog

One Of The First Arthropods On Earth Appeared Half A Billion Years Ago

A creepy worm-like creature with thirty different limbs has been discovered by researchers. According to the researchers, this ancient animal combed the sea floor five hundred million years ago. This worm-like creature is fascinating to scientists because these sea-slugs hunted and consumed food in an unusual way. Also, this ancient sea-slug is likely one of the very first arthropods to ever come into existence.

Researchers discovered that this fossil encases an early organism known as a lobopodia. The individual organism found within the sediment is formally known as Ovatiovermis cribratus. Lobopodians lived during the early cambrian period and they are know for their worm-like bodies, as well as their many limbs. The lobopodia that was recently discovered is similar to other types of lobopodians, but most lobopodians possessed defensive spikes on their bodies, which the cribrata does not have.

It is rare to find a modern sea creature that feeds in the same manner as a lobopodia. This ancient sea-slug is known as a “filter feeder”. Being a filter feeder entails anchoring itself to the sea floor with hooks while it combed the bottom of the ocean for food. The sea-slug would then use it toothed front limbs in order to consume whatever types of food a sea-slug finds at the bottom of the ocean.

Lobopodians serve as a very rare example of early arthropods, and this has scientists excited since they can now identify the particular functions of certain physical traits of an early arthropod. This is a big deal in the field of evolutionary biology because all subsequent arthropod finding can be better explained with this recent example of one of the oldest arthropods to ever exist. More specifically, the fossil-find has shown that arthropods evolved from a filter feeder.

Had you ever heard of a “filter feeder” before? If you have, which other organisms use this particular feeding method?