Armored Cambrian ‘worm’ that looks like a toilet scrub brush unearthed in China

An artist reconstruction of Wufengella bengtsoni. (Image credit: Illustration made by Roberts Nicholls,

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A bristly armored “worm” that scuttled across ocean reefs 518 million years ago is the ancestor to three aquatic animal groups that today live very different lifestyles, and it offers new clues about the explosion of diverse species at the time, a new study finds. 

An international team of researchers recently discovered the fossil of a species that gave rise to brachiopods, bryozoans and phoronids; these three groups of filter-feeding marine creatures all fix themselves to the seafloor, but each group has highly specialized feeding structures and they look very different from one another. The fossil species, named Wufengella bengtsoni, is a member of an older, shelled group of organisms called tommotiids, scientists reported in a new study.

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