Ancient critter could be the granddaddy of shellfish

January 17, 2013
L-R: A Cotyledion tylodes fossil with U-shaped gut, an interpretative drawing, and an artistic reconstruction are pictured in a graphic released on January 17, 2013, by the scientific magazine "Nature". The marine creature, which lived 500 million years ago at a time of explosive growth in Earth's biodiversity, could be a forerunner of worms and molluscs, a study published on Thursday said.

A weird marine creature that lived 500 million years ago at a time of explosive growth in Earth's biodiversity could be a forerunner of worms and molluscs, a study published on Thursday said.

Palaeontologists in China and Europe have taken a second look at fossils of a species called Cotyledion tylodes—a small animal that, when it was identified in 1999, was at first thought to be a cnidarian, or part of a group of -like species.

C. tylodes had a goblet-shaped body between eight and 56 millimetres (0.3 to 2.2 inches) long, with a cup-shaped upper part and lower cylindrical stalk.

On the upper part, the creature's mouth lay adjacent to its anus, with the two organs connected by a U-shaped gut and encircled by a "crown" of foldable tentacles, the scientists found.

The peculiar anatomy means that C. tylodes is most probably an entoproct, meaning an organism that strains to filter out suspended .

If so, its place in the family tree is wrong, says the study. It is likely to be a primitive lophotrochozoan, a branch that today includes worms and shellfish.

The study appears in the Scientific Reports.

Explore further: Ancient blob-like creature of the deep revealed by scientists

Related Stories

Bone-eating 'zombie' worms can no longer hide

October 31, 2011

Bone-eating 'zombie' worms may be good at keeping out of sight, living off dead whales in the darkness of the sea floor, but scientists have found out how to detect them, even if there’s no trace of their bodies or a ...

Strange worm reveals the evolution of digestion

October 26, 2012

A Swedish–Norwegian research team shows in a new study that the intestines of the peculiar Penis worm develop in the same way as those in humans, fish and starfish. This surprising discovery shows that stomachs of very ...

Recommended for you

Fractals patterns in a drummer's music

August 28, 2015

Fractal patterns are profoundly human – at least in music. This is one of the findings of a team headed by researchers from the Max Planck Institute for Dynamics and Self-Organization in Göttingen and Harvard University ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.