Palaeontologists at the Royal Ontario Museum and University of Toronto have recently announced the discovery a new Canadian species, found in fossils that are believed to be of a 'large new predatory species'. While it is awesome that the experts have been able to uncover these fossils, the creature they have discovered truly sounds like something from our nightmares! 

Described as having “rake-like” claws, a “pineapple-slice-shaped” mouth, an “enormous” head, the experts named the new species ‘Cambroraster falcatus.’ A study published on July 31 confirmed that the fossils had been found in the Canadian Rockies, in half-a-billion-year-old rocks in Kootenay National Park.

If the razor-sharp teeth weren’t enough to make you feel on edge, experts have agreed that the creature could have reached up to a foot in length! Speaking on the species’ size, Joe Moysiuk, a graduate student based at the Royal Ontario Museum, said, “It would have been even more impressive at the time it was alive, as most animals living during the Cambrian Period were smaller than your little finger.” 

According to Caron, who is also an Assistant Professor in Ecology & Evolutionary Biology and Earth Sciences at the University of Toronto, the most extraordinary part of the fossil discovery is the amount of specimens that were recovered. He said, “Over the past few summers we found hundreds of specimens, sometimes with dozens of individuals covering single rock slabs.”

Caron noted that the unusually large amount of complete fossils preserved were extremely helpful in understanding what the animal looked like, and how they lived all those years ago. "We are really excited about this discovery,” Caron explained.

Because of these great numbers of “exceptionally well-preserved” fossils, researchers were able to reconstruct the creature in extraordinary detail, showing characteristics that had not ever been seen before in similar species.

Even more exciting for those involved in the research, there is a large new area in Kootenay National Park that has been deemed “worth scientific exploration”, meaning that experts believe there is potential there to uncover any number of new species that have yet to be discovered!

The name ‘Cambroraster’ refers to the animal’s claws, with are described by Royal Ontario Museum (ROM) as “forward-directed rakes.” Experts at ROM believe that these claws would have been used to sift through sediment, and to trap buried pray in the “net-like array of hooked spines.”

The second part of the name, ‘falcatus’ refers to the creature’s distinctive features, primarily the “shield-like” covering of its head. ROM describes this covering as being a similar shape to the Millennium Falcon spaceship from the Star Wars films.

The discovery and study of the creature will be shown in an upcoming CBC documentary called, “The Nature of Things.” The Cambroraster will feature in the episode titled “First Animals,” which will air on October 18, 2019, at 9 PM. 

The specimens, alongside others found at the same site, are also expected to be showcased in a brand-new gallery at ROM, scheduled to open in 2021.

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