Fun Facts

Fun Facts

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True

Over 1,000 dinosaurs discovered.
All lay eggs/hatch from eggs.
All dinosaurs lived on land.
Those who swam and flew were reptiles.
Backboned.
2 holes in their skulls behind their eyes.

False

Lived with humans.
Cold-blooded.
Lived fully in water.
Pea size brains.
Tails dragged on ground.
Spent all their time killing each other.

A team of researchers discovered what they call the prehistoric ancestor of modern-day spiders, butterflies and lobsters.

The creature is called Yawunik kootenayi and according to those who found it it was a marine creature that had two pairs of eyes, long appendages used for grasping its prey and lived more than 500 million years ago; this means that the lobster-like sea monster lived long before the first dinosaur species appeared on Earth, 250 million years before, more precisely.

The 500 million year old lobster fossils were identified by a team of international paleontologists form the University of Toronto, in collaboration with Pomona College from California and the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto.

This newly found fossil marks the discovery of the first new prehistoric species in the Marble Canyon paleontological site, which is part of the famous fossil deposit known as the Canadian Burgess Shale.

yawunik kootenay image yawunik kootenay image yawunik kootenay image

The Yawunik kootenayi marine creature had long frontal appendages that looked like antennae found in modern shrimps or beetles. But unlike shrimps or beetles, Yawunik kootenayi’s appendages were made of three long claws, and two of these had teeth used for capturing prey.

Cédric Aria, a PhD candidate in the department of ecology and evolutionary biology at the University of Toronto and the lead author of the study, explained that the 500 year old lobster can actually help expand the scientists’ perspective on the predatory habits and overall anatomy of one of the first species of arthropods that ever existed on Earth.

This species is part of the group from which modern lobsters and spiders eventually evolved. The researchers published their recent findings on the prehistoric lobster fossils in the journal Palaeontology.

Aria explains that the lobster ancestor had the similar features that resemble those of the modern arthropod, such as an external skeleton, a segmented body and the appendages that were jointed. However, the recently discovered marine creature lacked certain of the evolved features found in modern arthropods so experts say that the fossils belonged to a creature that can be called the “stem of arthropods.”

yawunik kootenay image

The new study reveals evidence that the prehistoric lobster had the capacity of moving its frontal appendages forward and backward, and could spread them when it needed to catch prey or retract them underneath its body when it moved in the waters.

Also, the Yawunik had long flagella, which resembled a whip, that were highly sensitive and extended from its claws. This feature makes its appendages one of the most complex and versatile in all species of known arthropods, the experts say.

According to Aria, compared to other crustaceans or insects, the 500 million year old lobster did not have additional appendages extending from its head that could be used to process food.

“Evolution resulted here in a combination of adaptations onto the frontal-most appendage of this creature, maybe because such modifications were easier to acquire”, said Aria.

The larvae of some species of crustaceans can use the antennae for both swimming and gathering food. But the mantis shrimp, which is a large active predator, has its grasping and sensory functions between the appendages.

The newly discovered species of prehistoric lobster and its relatives help scientists better understand the condition that existed before this division of tasks occurred among parts of the organism. 

The Yawunik kootenayi lobster-like marine creature was discovered buried in the Marble Canyon site, which is found in the Kootenay National Park in British Columbia, 40 km south from the BurgessShale located in the Yoho National Park.

The site was discovered by Aria and a team of researchers led by Jean-Bernard Caron in 2012. Caron is an associate professor at University of Toronto, the department of earth sciences and ecology, as well as a professor of evolutionary biology and a curator of invertebratepaleontology at the Royal Ontario Museum.

Another researcher who was part of the team is Robert Gaines, one of the study’s co-authors and a professor of geology at Pomona College. 

According to professor Caron, this lobster ancestor is “the most abundant of the large new species of the Marble Canyon site”, and it holds an important role in the food network and in the prehistoric ecosystem.

This creature is very important in the study of Marble Canyon site and it shows how this can increase the importance of Burgess Shale and its role in better understanding the evolution of animals.

The researchers used state-of-the-art technology called “elemental mapping” to study the 500 million year old fossils. The experts used this method to detect the fossil’s atomic composition and its surrounding sediments.

The prehistoric creature was named after the Ktunaxa people who lived in the Kootenay area. The name Yawunik was inspired by a mythological marine monster which is said to have killed many people and caused mayhem a very long time ago.

 

Starfish or Sea Stars

Starfish

Starfish or Sea Stars were living in oceans when dinosaurs roamed the earth.
Fossils have been found in Europe with five arms and a mouth in the middle of the underside. So Cool!
Did you know there are more than 2,000 kinds of sea stars today?
They have been found in every ocean in the world. They are not found in freshwater.
Scientists changed the name from starfish to sea star because this creature is not a fish.
One sea star called the Sun Star can have up to 40 arms.
Wow!
If a Sea Star loses an arm it can regrow it. Sometimes it takes up to one year to replace.

Sea Stars don't have blood for their systems to work - they use sea water. Luckily, they live in sea water!
They have eyes at the points of their arms.
When they eat, they push their stomachs out through their mouth. When they are finished it goes back inside.
Weird!

Duck-Billed Platypus

This is another very strange creature! It's the Duck-Billed Platypus.
They are an egg-laying mammal called a "Monotremes." Ordinarily, mammals do not lay eggs.
This makes them special.
Mammals are usually not venomous. However, the male platypus is! He has stingers  his back heels. This makes them super special.
They lived 122 million years ago.
Today the Platypus lives in eastern Australia and Tasmania.

Duck-Billed Platypus
Duck-Billed Platypus

Their bodies are covered with a thick brown fur which keeps them warm and is waterproof.
They swim and hunt in freshwater not saltwater. They are known to burrow in the banks of rivers, creeks, and ponds.
They are most active in the evening hours. They can stay underwater for about 2 minutes.
They close their eyes when swimming and can tell where to go by a sonar-like system which transmits from their bills.
They are very unusual.