It’s hard to believe that the world we live in today was once roamed by otherworldly creatures like pterodactyls and triceratops, and we would never know it if it weren’t for the experts who dig up their remains. Just this week, paleontologists at Toronto’s Royal Ontario Museum (ROM) announced that they’ve discovered the remains of an extinct animal group that may have inhabited our planet over half a billion years ago.
The remains were discovered in ancient Cambrian rocks in Kootenay National Park right here at home in the Canadian Rockies. The species has been named Titanokorys gainesi and according to the ROM, the size of this creature is simply unbelievable.
“The sheer size of this animal is absolutely mind-boggling, this is one of the biggest animals from the Cambrian period ever found,” said the ROM’s Richard M. Ivey Curator of Invertebrate Palaeontology, Jean-Bernard Caron.
At a half-metre long, Titanokorys gainesi was a giant compared to most of its pinky-sized Cambrian contemporaries. Its broad flattened carapace form also suggests it was adapted to life near the seafloor. 🌊
— Royal Ontario Museum (@ROMtoronto) September 8, 2021
The animal measures about half a metre in length — by comparison, most sea creatures that existed during this time period “barely reached the size of a pinky finger,” the museum states.
Its appearance is somehow even more unusual than its size. Caron told CTV News that the “strange” looking species looks like a floating head with a helmet on. It’s also a predator, and has “spiny claws,” a “pineapple slice-shaped, tooth-lined mouth,” and “multifaceted eyes” to hunt and capture its prey.
The flattened shape of its head carapace makes experts believe that it lived near the seafloor. “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,” said Caron.
Coincidentally, researchers at the University of Calgary also made an astonishing discovery this week. After many years spent studying the bones of a dinosaur, they learned that the remains belong to the Ulughbegasaurus, an apex predator believed to be 5 times bigger than the T-rex.