Fossil of ‘monster’ worm with snapping jaws discovered

worm

 (Luke Parry)

A giant worm with “terrifying” jaws has caught researchers’ eyes, who say the huge extinct marine worm is a new species known to science. What’s more, it’s been named after the bass player from a death metal band called Cannibal Corpse.

The scientists discovered the fossilized remains of the worm not in the wild, but in a museum. The worm fossil and others had actually been in Canada’s Royal Ontario Museum since 1994, after a researcher took samples from a remote site in Ontario only reachable by helicopter. Based on the fossil, they think the worm was over three feet long and had jaws over a quarter of an inch in size. (Usually, the jaws of these kinds of worm are much tinier.)

“Gigantism in animals is an alluring and ecologically important trait, usually associated with advantages and competitive dominance,” the lead author of a new study on the worm, Mats Eriksson of Lund University, said in a statement. “It is, however, a poorly understood phenomenon among marine worms and has never before been demonstrated in a fossil species.”

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Over 400 million years old, the giant fossilized creature was known as a bristle worm. The University of Bristol compares this ancient worm to modern-day Bobbit worms, which ambush and eat fish or cephalopods like squids.

The scientists gave the new worm species an interesting name: Websteroprion armstrongi. The second part of that name is in honor of Derek K Armstrong, a member of the Ontario Geological Survey who took the helicopter ride to collect the samples in the first place.

The first part is more interesting. That’s in honor of a musician named Alex Webster, a bass player for Cannibal Corpse, a death metal band. According to the statement on the discovery, this is because Webster was a “giant” on the bass, just like the worm itself was giant.