425 Million Year Old Parasite Found In UK


425m-year-old shrimp-like fossil

Scientists recently discovered the 425 million year old remains of a tongue worm parasite. It was discovered in a rock from Herefordshire in the UK, it was still attached to the animal it invaded.

Prof David Siveter from the University of Leicester, explains:

The find

“We have found a fossil parasite, a tong worm, in 425m year rocks in Herefordshire, which is very exciting because fossil tong worm finds are exceedingly rare. Although they are as animals quite common today, there are about 140 species around at the present time, but very rare in the fossil record. “


“The really exciting thing is that we have a fossil tongue worm attached to the host. So we have the parasite and the host which it infected. The preservation is unusual because it is preserved in a volcanic ash. “

425 million years ago

“So these animals are living in a sea which covered southern Britain 425 million years ago. Southern Britain at that time was in warm southerly sub tropical latitudes and a volcano released volcanic ash, ash settled in the sea, killed the animals, and because of special geo-chemical conditions that were set up, actually preserved the animals. Frozen in time, its just as if someone came along with a camera and in an instant froze the animals in time.”