The species is named as Yawunik kootenayi, lived 250 million year ago before the dinosaurs roamed on earth.
The issue is published in Journal Paleontology.
Lead author Cedric Aria of the University of Toronto said, “This creature is expanding our perspective on the anatomy and predatory habits of the first arthropods, the group to which spiders and lobsters belong.”
Aria added, “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.”
This is the first new species fossil from the Marble Canyon site at the Canadian Burgess Shale located in British Columbia’s Kootenay National Park, Canada.
The species had long antenna like appendages. It consists of three long claws; two of the claws had opposing rows of teeth.
Yawunik moved the appendages forward to catch the prey during an attack and backward while swimming.
Aria said, “Unlike insects or crustaceans, Yawunik did not possess additional appendages in the head that were specifically modified 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.”
He added, “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.”