"no living direct ancestors"
Given that they themselves lived so long ago it would be a bit surprising if there ancestors were still alive.
A worm which walked on legs and was adorned with vicious spikes is likely to have been one of the first animals on Earth to have donned armour for its own protection, say palaeoboffins who have identified the wee beastie. The "super-armoured" worm, a previously unknown species from 500 million years ago, ate by filtering …
I think "a worm that walked on legs and had vicious spikes" might adequately describe Geoffrey (Lord) Howe, who while appearing to be a worm during the Thatcher years eventually stood up and spiked her to such effect that she went three weeks later.
(Howe made some mistakes but compared to most of the present lot he was pretty good.)
"Modern velvet worms are all pretty similar in terms of their general body organisation and not that exciting in terms of their lifestyle," said Dr Javier Ortega-Hernández to which the worms replied "Bitch please. You might have a pretty face, but you will have to put a bag over that personality!"
I had hoped for a mention of the Ediacara biota which was around at about this time.
There's lots of information in the usual place for those who are interested: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ediacara_biota
Obviously not much is known about these plants or animals, or whatever the hell they were, but they're really fascinating.
Was this a MONSTER armour plated worm covered with flesh tearing spikes?
Or just a weenie little wormlett made remarkable only by a thin cuticle and no more prickley hairs than a woolly bear caterpillar???
And could it have jumped as high as a man's throat, or eaten human babies (had it not become extinct) ?
Enquiring minds want to know !
"A morningstar for salmon!"
No. Brute force on fish is contra-indicated. If you don't believe me, vacation in a location that allows fishing with dynamite. I'm talking building on a 14/0 hook & finessing the fish.
Try to remember, I'm in Northern California. Salmon here regularly grow large enough to feed over 20 people. They aren't little brook trout.
 20 people X 6oz fish == 7.5 pounds of meat. So well under a 15 pound fish.
If they were from 500 million years ago, they are not "nearly as distant" from the dinosaurs as the dinosaurs are from us, they are far more distant. Not only that, they're more distant from the dinosaurs than the most distant dinosaurs are from us.
Most recent dinosaurs: 65mya.
Most distant dinosaurs from us: 234-234mya
Distance between these and earliest dinosaurs: at least 266 million years.
Maths editor asleep tonight?
Millions of years isn't really the right measure of distance. Some organisms haven't changed a lot since well before the dinosaurs (sharks, for example). There are "living fossils" that are still extant, but most closely connected to larger groupings mostly long-extinct (the pearly nautilus is an example).
And then there are the Archaea, single-celled organisms with biochemistries far more different from today's main groups than the difference between a man and a cabbage.
An example of Turing-Style Cabageness Test (TSCT for short):
Q: Can you perform photosynthesis?
A: Hmmm... yes!
Q: Do you belong to the Brassica genus?
A: ... yes?
Q: Do you possess thick edible roots?
A: ... ... yes?
*** WRONG ANSWER!!! - WRONG ANSWER!!! - YOU'RE A TURNIP!!! ***
We could call it the Sauerkraut-Kampf Test.
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