Named Tomlinsonus dimitrii, the species represented in this specimen is part of an extinct group of arthropods known as marrellomorphs that lived about 450 million years ago, during the Ordovician period.
Other echinoderm fossils abundant in the area often contain mineralized body parts that have been very well preserved over time. However, Tomlinsonus dimitrii was purely a mollusk, making the discovery of its complete fossil a startling find.
Lead author Joseph Moysiuk, said: “We didn’t expect to find a mollusc at this site. When we think of fossils, we usually think of things like bones and hard shells. However, the preservation of soft tissue is rare and only a few special places in the world can find fossils of molluscs.”
Although measuring 6 cm, only the length of an index finger and able to fit in the palm of a hand, the fossil shows the extremely strange and wonderful full form of Tomlinsonus dimitrii.
The flat head of this creature is decorated with two comb-shaped horns. Its body is segmented like that of other arthropods. Like insects or spiders, Tomlinsonus dimitrii also contains many segmented genera, including a pair of large, unusually shaped limbs. The creature’s whole body is covered with short spines, giving the impression of feathers.
The most special feature, Tomlinsonus dimitrii seems to be a blind creature because it cannot detect the position of the eye. Most likely, their unusually long limbs helped them sense and move on the seabed.