The scientists behind the new study pointed at the nature of the numerous small tunnels they found in what was once the ocean floor, arguing that they are in fact burrows left by the predatory creatures.
Scientists in Taiwan have discovered evidence hinting at the existence of a predatory marine worm that lived 20 million years ago. It’s thought the creature is related to the bizarrely named bobbit worm – also known as a “sand striker” – Wired reports.
The bobbit worm, which earned its name from the infamous case of John and Lorena Bobbit that involved a penis being cut off, is an ambush predator that buries its body in sediment on the ocean floor and striking when prey approaches.
Now, researchers believe that the they’ve found “hundreds of fossilised worm burrows” about 6.5 ft long in sandstone that once was covered by the sea.
He also remarked that the burrows show signs of the worms’ “active behaviour” as “the worms were actually hiding in the sediment, jumping out, catching their prey, and then dragging this prey down into the sediment.”
The resemblance of the burrows’ cross-sections to a feather, with “the collapse funnels branching off in the sediment on each side,” is attributed by the scientists to the worm’s feeding habits.
However,Terrence Gosliner, senior curator of invertebrate zoology at the California Academy of Sciences – who wasn’t involved in the study – argued that the burrows’ design does not necessarily suggest that they were occupied by predators.