Return of the Jedi‘s sarlacc creature was scary enough when it was just science fiction. Now scientists are sharing new research on a very real prehistoric ocean predator that shared some striking similarities.
The new research published today in the journal Palaeontology also resolves a longtime mystery about the creature with vicious-looking circular mouth.
Fossils unearthed by a team of researchers on expedition in North Greenland show the mouth belonged to Pambdelurion whittingtoni, an extinct Cambrian-era relative of modern insects, spiders, and crustaceans. The 3-foot-long wormlike creature featured 12 stubby legs and a large pair of spiny facial appendages that helped guide food into its buzzsaw mouth.
“The mouth is a spitting image of the Sarlacc from Star Wars,” said Bristol University macroevolution expert Jakob Vinther in a press release about the findings.
Scientists had previously discovered fossilized examples of the mouth apparatus, but were unable to determine which creature they belonged to. For more on the discovery, see the announcement from Bristol University.