News of a unique discovery has recently rocked the Paleontological world, proportedly promising to completely rewrite the prehistory of life on planet Earth.
The fossil of a monster predator with a circular jaw and a pair of claws on its head has been uncovered in the old collections of the Smithsonian museum in Washington, researchers revealed on Wednesday.
The mysterious fossilized remains of the creature were unearthed in 1912 in Canada's 505 million-year-old site, but were never officially described or fully cataloged. During a random search of the Smithsonian's lower vaults researchers discovered the complete specimen, some four meters long, weighing three tons, wrapped in a decaying burlap field jacket, covered with webs from poisonous Black Widow spiders.
The question of exactly what the creature is continues to be debated. Except for its great size, the fossil contains some jellyfish and sea cucumber features with arthropod and mollusk-like characteristics.
"This is a completely new beast," remarked Chapman Cooper, Ph.D, an award-winning specialist in evolutionary biology. "We've never seen anything like it. It's a very charismatic critter, that's for sure. It's difficult to take your eyes of of it."
The fossilized animal has a segmented body covered with gills and a huge three-part carapace, or shell, that projects out from the front of its head, according to Cooper.
"This structure is unlike anything seen in other fossil or living arthropods, if, in fact, that's what it is," agreed Greta Whatley, Ph.D, who has been studying anomalous fossils for twenty years at the Smithsonian.
"The use of the large carapace extending from the front of its head is a mystery. It seems to suggest the presence of something similar to a sizable brain, like what we would expect in much higher life forms. We can only guess at what its function might have been. I must admit, studying it as closely as I have, the thing tends to have a sort of hypnotic effect. I somehow lost over four hours in time yesterday that I can't account for. Clearly the two things aren't related, but that does give you the sense of how fascinating this creature is. You almost expect it to speak to you. "
A new expedition is currently being organized to return to the original dig site, in search of more specimens. Although originally slated as leaders to the expedition team, both Cooper and Whatley were suddenly hospitalized for what an unnamed source has described as complete mental breakdowns.
"Both scientists are simply exhausted," explained curator Ray Willis. "Can't say I blame them. Just spending a little time with this weird fossil is enough to give anyone the ebee-gee-bees."