The oldest ancestor of spiders found in Canada

Tiny eyes sparkling in the Burgess Shale Rock allowed paleontologist Jean-Bernard Caron and his colleague from the Royal Ontario Museum to discover the oldest known ancestor of modern spiders and scorpions.

I was sitting there along the quarry and I turned my head to the right and saw that glowing light coming from that rock. Two eyes staring at me almost.

Jean-Bernard Caron, paleontologist

The eyes were found to belong to a 500-million-year-old specimen of Mollisonia plenovenatrix , so well preserved that Mr. Caron and his colleague Cedric Aria were able for the first time to definitively place the extinct animal at the base of a tree. who now has thousands of branches.

The creature was only an inch in size and haunted the ancient seabed. Nevertheless, the two palaeontologists at the Royal Ontario Museum say he was a ferocious predator.

Big eyes spotted his prey. Long limbs propelled her through the sediment. His head resembled a modern multi-tool whose limbs could feel, grasp, crush and chew.

But it’s the small pair of structures in front of his mouth that really excited MM. Caron and Aria.

These same claws are visible on all members of the Chelicerata family: we speak of 115,000 different species, and here is their ancestor.

Jean-Bernard Caron, paleontologist

I was really excited , said Caron, who published his findings Wednesday in the journal Nature .

These fossils tell us about the origin of key innovations in the evolution of animals, he says. It is important to understand how they happen. Because when they happen, it often results in an explosion of life.

Curiously, the species was clearly on a certain evolutionary trajectory, well adapted to its environment and breathing through thin gills stratified like pages of books.

This discovery tells us that they were already present in the Cambrian era, explains Mr. Caron. They probably evolved earlier than that.

This means that there is probably another, even older, ancestor who may be waiting in the same Burgess shale in southeastern British Columbia.

These rocks are famous throughout the world for the richness of their fossils from the Middle Cambrian Period, a time when Earth’s biodiversity exploded. What distinguishes Burgess specimens is the clarity with which the soft parts of animals are preserved.

I feel like a boy in a candy store. There are a lot of sweets to choose from and the question is what will I choose and describe first!

Jean-Bernard Caron

“We could work there for decades and still feel like we did not scratch the surface. There is still a lot of ground that we have not traveled yet. Look for the eyes=,” says Caron.

“The eyes are very reflective, it’s very striking,” he says. “Many of the fossils we discover in the rocks, the first thing you see are the eyes, like bright spots in the rock.”

You May Also Like

Carrie J. Bronstein

About the Author: Carrie J. Bronstein

Carrie Bronstein helped bring Webby Feed from a weekly newsletter to a full-fledged news site by creating a new website and branding. She continues to assist in keeping the site responsive and well organized for the readers. As a contributor to Webby Feed, Carrie mainly covers mobile news and gadgets.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.