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romtorontoBehold the pincer-wielding, 50 legged, 507m-year-old fossil Tokummia katalepsis that sheds light on diversity among lobsters, ants and millipedes.
This fossilised ancient creature with huge pincers that resemble the modern day can opener, had a hinged two-piece shell and more than 50 pairs of legs. This animal was discovered in the Burgess Shale, near Marble Canyon in Kootenay National Park, British Columbia in 2012 by a Royal Ontario Museum(ROM)-led team of researchers, students and volunteers. According to the research team, the creature is thought to have lived about 507 million years ago during the Cambrian period. Its discovery offers insights into the early body plan of mandibulates, which refers to the mouth like part of the animal that would have helped them hold or eat food. Co-author of the paper, Cédric Aria said that “Tokummia surpassed our expectations by shedding light on the evolutionary past of a huge and diverse group of animals.” Why? Because the fossils discovered in the past of two-part shell creatures like Tokummia were incomplete, often missing details around the head, which included the evidence of the mandibles. Because of this, such fossils were proposed to be true anthropods. However, this new finding suggests that these creatures appeared later in the family tree, and are in fact early mandibulates. This discovery will allow researchers for the first time to really understand the origins of the group of modern day crustaceans and insects