Fossils of 400-million-year-old 'Excalibur worm' discovered in Australia -
Dec 02, 2021 1 min, 17 secs

According to the old English legend, Excalibur is a magical sword wielded by the legendary King Arthur — purveyor of round tables and protector of Britain in the fifth and sixth centuries. Today, the legend of that enchanted blade lives on… in the name of a prehistoric worm that you could crush between two fingers..

Meet Lepidocoleus caliburnus. Measuring just a fraction of an inch long), this ancient, sea-dwelling creepy-crawler may not reach the stature of its Arthurian namesake — but, as a new study in the journal Papers in Palaeontology points out, it did at least look the part of a heavily-armored knight, covered in overlapping plates of calcite crystals that ran along the entire length of the creature's body.

caliburnus lived about 400 million years ago, during the Devonian period, in what is now Australia.

Both worms probably lived on coral reefs in shallow waters that are now part of the Australian mainland, the study authors wrote.

To learn just how well-protected these creatures were, the study authors took micro-CT scans of the worm fossils to create digital 3D models of their armor plates.

The researchers found that the worms had two overlapping armor systems: one running down the length of each worm's skeleton, and the other covering both sides of the creatures.

No longer lost to history, these two worms — Excalibur and Shuriken — can perhaps rest easier now knowing that tales of their dangerous and daring lives are still being told 400 million years later.

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