Sunday, 15 April 2018

500 Million Years Ago, a Sea Worm Hosted a Poop Picnic for His Shelled Friends

By Laura Geggel, Senior Writer | April 4, 2018 04:16pm ET

About 500 million years ago, a large predatory sea worm munched on some dinner and left behind a pile of turds. Then, the worm left its burrow on the seafloor, and some shelled critters came along, poked at the droppings and died — fossilized for eternity around the poopy picnic.
Researchers realized they were looking at a Cambrian period buffet when they discovered a fossil containing the sea worm's fossilized excrement and the remains of conically shelled sea critters known as hyoliths, according to a new study published online yesterday (April 3) in the journal Palaios.

In addition to this remarkable find, the researchers unearthed other sea worm coprolites (fossilized poop) that other Cambrian creatures, including trilobites, had fed on. These animals were "opportunistic coprovores [dung eaters] drawn to the organic-rich fecal mass," the researchers wrote in the study. [Cambrian Creatures Gallery: Photos of Primitive Sea Life]

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