Scientists have unearthed a new Cambrian predator that had four eyes and some scary-looking arms meant for tackling prey.
The 508-million-year-old creature has been named Yawunik kootenayi, and it lived at a time when the first animal groups were appearing in the fossil record, according to an NBC News report.
It had a body that was about 6 inches long, and it was one of the first creatures in evolutionary history to start using its limbs for things other than their most basic functions.
It is the first new species to be uncovered at Marble Canyon in British Columbia’s Kootenay National Park, an amazing collection of fossils. Yawunik has been one of the most abundant species at the site, indicating that it was probably close to the top of the food chain as a predator.
The specimen was found on just the second day of the archaeological dig in 2012. It was named after the Ktunaxa people who have inhabitated the area where the fossils were found. The Ktunaxa people believe Yawunik was the being that created the Earth.
Yawunik is what is known as a leanchoiliid anthropod. Anthropods evolved into more and more complex and diverse creatures, and now make up 80 percent of the species on Earth. Scorpions, spiders, crabs, lobsters, ants, and many other spies are considered anthropods.
Scientists believe that spiders, horseshoe crabs, and scorpions may be most closely related to Yawunik.
The findings were published in the journal Palaeontology.
The Cambrian period is the first geological period of the Paleozoic Era, and it lasted from about 541 million to 485 million years ago. This period marked a massive change of life on Earth, going from small unicellular organisms to complex, multicellular organisms.