Fossils of 'Yawunik Kootney', Lobster's Fierce Four-Eyed Cambrian Ancestor Found in Canada

By Peter R - 28 Mar '15 04:10AM

Fossil discovery of a large lobster-like predator in Marble Canyon, British Colombia is expected to shed more light on evolution of modern-day arthropods.

According to CBC News, the marine creature is 15 centimeters long with two pairs of eyes, three claws and appendages. Two claws had opposing teeth indicating they were used to grab prey. The creature lived during Cambrian era, 509 million years ago. At least 100 fossils of the creature were found in the canyon located in B.C's Kootenay National Park. Named Yawunik Kootney, it is a tribute to the Kootney nation that lived in the area.

"It has the signature features of an arthropod with its external skeleton, segmented body and jointed appendages, but lacks certain advanced traits present in groups that survived until the present day. We say that it belongs to the 'stem' of arthropods," said University of Toronto's Cédric Aria.

The appendages on Yawunik did not help in food processing, which is a fairly modern trait thanks to evolution, researchers said.

"We know that the larvae of certain crustaceans can use their antennae to both swim and gather food. But a large active predator such as a mantis shrimp has its sensory and grasping functions split up between appendages. Yawunik and its relatives tell us about the condition existing before such a division of tasks among parts of the organism took place," Aria said.

The Marble Canyon is 40 kilometers away from the Burgess Shale in Yoho National Park which is considered a treasure trove for fossils.

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