A research has appeared in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences detailing the discovery of an ancient spiky and weird creature around the Yunnan Province, China. The creature, Collinsium ciliosum, existed during the Cambrian Period some 518 million years ago.

The creature has a row of spikes along its back, and these help it to filter bits of food from the water in which it thrives. According to Javier Ortega-Hernández, a paleobiologist at the University of Cambridge, the features of the collinsium would make it very odd-looking and weird if confronted in the water today.

And paleontologist Xi-Guang Zhang of Yunnan University in Kunming, China, added that many people would regard the collinsium a handsome beast today regardless of its startling and fearsome appearance.

The name collinsium ciliosum was named after Canadian paleontologist Desmond Collins, who had earlier developed an idea for a similar creature.

Researchers said the weird creature was about 4 inches or 10 cm long, and it had 72 sharp spikes to keep predators away from it. It was seen as a distant ancestor of modern velvet worms, and it was just a soft-bodied creature with armor.

The creature had six pairs of front legs and nine pairs of rear legs which had claws, and it had a large head with a mouth that was lower to the ground. It captured its food by filtering particles of food from its surrounding with its feathery legs.

Martin Smith, a paleontologist from the University of Cambridge noted in the journal Nature that collinsium and its counterparts like the wiwaxia, anomalocaris, nectocaris, and opabinia among other beasty creatures were part of the Hallucigenia that lived during the Cambrian Period.

Source: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences

Image Source: Jie Yang/Artwork by Javier Ortega-Hernández