The marine creature called Yawunik kootenayi lived 508 million years ago during the Cambrian Period. Its fossils are about the size and shape of an empanada (6 inches, or 15 centimeters, long).
Canadian and US researchers have found the fossil, which looks like the ancestor of modern-day lobsters, butterflies and spiders. The fossil of Yawunik kootenayi was found in the Marble Canyon site, part of the Canadian Burgess Shale fossil deposit.
Paleontologists from University of Toronto, the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto and Pomona College in California said the creature thrived as long as 508 million years ago, over 250 million years before the first dinosaur.
They added that this creature is the first new species to be described from the site in Kootenay National Park, located 25 miles from the original Burgess Shale site in Yoho National Park. The site was discovered in 2012.
According to researchers, Yawunik had long frontal appendages that look like the antennae on beetles and shrimp. The antennae had three long claws, two of them with teeth to help catch prey.
"This creature is expanding our perspective on the anatomy and predatory habits of the first arthropods, the group to which spiders and lobsters belong," Cedric Aria, a Ph.D. candidate in U of T's Department of Ecology & Evolutionary Biology and lead author of the study, said in a news release.