Occurring roughly 541-485 million years ago, the Cambrian Era is when animal life began to blossom. While finding a fossil from that era is discovery enough, scientists found a Cambrian Era creature so massive it puts its peers to shame.
Dubbed Titanokorys gainesi, its shape is already notable, but its enormous size is what has scientists’ attention. Discovered in the famous Burgess Shale, a dig site in the Canadian Rockies, most of the species recovered there were smaller than a credit card. Titanokorys was half a meter long.
Dr. Jean-Bernard Caron of the Royal Ontario Museum is still in shock. “The sheer size of this animal is absolutely mind-boggling, this is one of the biggest animals from the Cambrian period ever found.”
Though first shown in the CBC documentary First Animals, Titanokorys only now received a scientific description. Titanokorys was a radiodont, a group of early arthropods. They’re identified by multifaceted eyes, cone-shaped mouths filled with toothed plates, and claws. Titanokorys would swim using flaps and extend the claws from their head into prey for food.
Caron issued a statement on Titanokorys, speculating about the creature and its impact on the ecosystem. “These enigmatic animals certainly had a big impact on Cambrian seafloor ecosystems. Their limbs at the front looked like multiple stacked rakes and would have been very efficient at bringing anything they captured in their tiny spines towards the mouth. The huge dorsal carapace might have functioned like a plough.”
Since ecosystems can only support a small number of large predators, scientists think Titanokorys competed with other radiodonts. Regardless, there are still many mysteries surrounding this enormous, rare creature waiting to be solved.
While Hiking With His Father, 12-Year-Old Discovers 69 Million-Year-Old Fossil
It’s common for many children growing up to daydream about unearthing a fossil. However, for one 12-year-old, this dream came true last year.
Nathan Hrushkin and his father, Dion, were hiking in the badlands of Alberta, Canada when he discovered a fossil. The beauty of the discovery is Hrushkin wants to be a paleontologist when he grows up.
Speaking to CNN, Hrushkin said “It’s pretty amazing to find something that’s like real, like an actual dinosaur discovery. It’s kind of been my dream for a while.”
According to Hrushkin, he and his father previously found bone fragments while hiking. Coming back later, he discovered the partially unearthed fossil. Dion immediately knew his son found something important from the tone of his voice.
“He called down to me,” Dion recalled. “He’s like, ‘Dad, you need to get up here,’ and as soon as he said that I could tell by the tone in his voice that he found something.”
Alberta’s laws protect fossils, so the two sent pictures of it to the Royal Tyrrell Museum of Paleontology. After identifying it, the museum spent the remainder of the summer digging it up.