SCIENTISTS claim to have found the “world’s first worm”, dating back to 220 million years ago, and providing important information on the nature of amphibians.
The worm is named Funcusvermis gilmorei and existed in the era of dinosaurs.
Paleontologists were able to identify it thanks to the worm’s jaws and teeth[/caption]
The fossil was discovered in Arizona, with researchers managing to identify it thanks to its jaws and teeth, which managed to survive fossilization.
Aside from how cool it is to discover a fossil that dates back millions of years ago, the worm is a part of a group called caecilians.
This group’s fossils are incredibly difficult to find and include species like frogs and salamanders.
“The discovery of the oldest caecilian fossils highlights the crucial nature of new fossil evidence,” said Ben Kligman, a doctoral student from Virginia Tech who led the dig for the fossil.
“Many of the biggest outstanding questions in paleontology and evolution cannot be resolved without fossils like this.”
He shared that fossils of caecilians are very rare and that they’re usually found when paleontologists are searching for more common fossils.
The discovery of this fossil could impact future researchers and studies, filling an 87 million-year gap in the records of caecilians.
“Our discovery of one was totally unexpected and it transformed the trajectory of my scientific interests,” he said.
The worm is the oldest caecilian fossil ever found and shares skeletal features with early frogs and salamanders, connecting the two animals.
Kligman called the achievement a “once-in-a-lifetime discovery.”
The type of worm, named Funcusvermis, was called after the “Funky Worm” song, from the 70s band Ohio Players.
“As the eponymous song says, it’s the funkiest worm in the world,” said Adam Marsh, lead paleontologist.
Researchers claim they’ve found other species at the dig site, which is named Thunderstorm Ridge.
Many of these species will be studied and shared with the scientific community over the coming years.