Fossilised in the Burgess Shale in Yoho National Park, British Columbia, Canada
The mystery of a 500 million-year-old fossil has been solved. Found decades prior, the Nectocaris was determined unidentifiable, until in 2010 when a group of scientists compared it to a set of newly discovered specimens.
Experts at the University of Toronto analysed 91 new specimens, some of which were better preserved than the first found in 1976, and were able to give the animal its proper place in history. The kite-shaped carnivore was an early ancestor of squids, octopuses, and other cephalopods.
It is thought Nectocaris were flat and between two and five centimetres long with large, stalked eyes. The tiny animal used two long grasping tentacles to hunt for prey with a nozzle-like funnel under its eyes that could "swivel like a pivoted cannon" to jet itself around the ocean - just like modern squids and octopuses.
The finding pushes back the origin of the ancestors of today's squid and octopuses by least 30 million years.
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