TECH
25/06/2015 08:08 BST | Updated 25/06/2015 08:59 BST

Hallucigenia Fossil Worm, Earth's Weirdest Creature Has A Face

We finally know what earth's weirdest creature looks like.

Hallucigenia is a 508-million-year-old marine animal which (as you've probably guessed) got its name because its discoverer was on a 'trip' and until now, scientists appeared to be clueless about what its face looked like.

However, a new specimen discovered in Canada has given palaeontologists exciting insight into how the ancient organism lived and its unique physical features.

In paper published by the journal Nature, authors Martin R. Smith and Jean-Bernard Caron include telling images of the fossil as viewed under an electron microscope.

hallucigenia

Smith and Caron learned that the worm-like creature had a ring of teeth inside its mouth as well as teeth lining the passageway from throat to stomach.

On seeing the animal in its entirety, Smith told the BBC:

"It looks completely surreal. It is like something from another world."

The teeth are thought to have acted as a ratchet allowing the animal to keep down its food while opening its mouth up to suck in new food.

READ MORE:

Despite it being only a few centimetres long, the marine animal has a few impressive features that make it worthy of an appearance in any science fiction film.

Its thin body is supported by several sets of legs and carries a covering of spikes, while its elongated head has a 'simple' set of eyes.

Prior to this discovery, which hails from the mid-Cambrian Burgess Shale, scientists thought a dark stain on fossil images represented the creature's head. However, further digging revealed that the head was in fact on the other side of the animal.

Smith commented:

"It's had a pretty chequered history.

"When it was first formally described, it was the wrong way up. It was only recently that we found on which side were its feet and which side was its back.

"Even then there has still been a lot of ambiguity as to which end was the head and which end was the tail."