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'Alien Goldfish' Could Have Been a Unique Mollusk, Scientists Say | Fossils

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The mystery of a strange creature called an ‘alien goldfish’ that has baffled fossil experts for decades has been solved, according to scientists who say the animal looks like some kind of mollusk. Maybe.

typhoid fever It lived about 330 million years ago and was discovered in the late 1960s at the Bear Gulch limestone fossil site in Montana, after which fossils of other species have been identified.

However, it has a rugby ball-shaped body up to 90 mm (3.5 in) long, a posterior fin, and shellless anatomy with neither a spine nor an anus. typhoid left Scientists were confused as to where it belonged on the tree of life.

Discovery of small teeth inside typhoid A fossil that eventually turned out to be the remains of the last meal of an extinct little eel-shaped fish known as a conodon added to the confusion.

typhoid graphic

Dr. Jean-Bernard Caron, co-author of the Royal Ontario Museum study, said:[Typhloesus] It was like an orphan in the tree of life. “

But researchers say tooth-like structures found in the animal’s gut could help clear up the confusion.

Caron said: [Typhloesus] may be some unique group of mollusks that evolved during the Carboniferous [period] and finally became extinct. “

Caron and his colleague Professor Simon Conway Morris of the University of Cambridge, writing in the journal Biology Letters, describe how they studied about a dozen specimens. typhoid Housed in the Royal Ontario Museum, much of it has never been studied before.

In the middle of some specimens, evidence of a feeding apparatus was found, similar to the toothed ribbons (lingual ligaments) found in mollusks today.located in the foregut typhoidThe , 4 mm long structure consists of two rows of approximately 20 posteriorly curved triangular teeth.

Researchers say it’s likely typhoid It flips the structure inside out and protrudes beyond its body to capture prey.

“Here the analogy [is] For example, a lizard’s tongue catches insects. It’s very fast and carries food in your mouth,” says Caron, not only consuming conodon but typhoid I ate seaweed.

But Caron said the case was not completely closed.. “We know it’s a kind of mollusk, but it’s still a very strange looking mollusk,” he said, adding to the team’s interpretation that the creature may have been a type of gastropod. Not everyone would agree, he added, a family that includes snails and slugs.

Dr. Luke Parry, a paleontologist at the University of Oxford, was not involved in the study, but welcomed it.

“Since the ligaments they have identified seem convincing to me, this [is] “Even if the authors were unable to place the fossils precisely in the gastropod tree of life, the paleontological mystery was virtually solved,” he said.

Mark Parnell, professor at the Center for Paleontology at the University of Leicester, says the tongue is convincing, but typhoid Mollusks, given that different types of animals have individually evolved lingual features.

“It’s still a very strange animal,” he said. “[The researchers] I’ve found some intriguing new information, but I’m nowhere near the Slam Dunk case when it comes to knowing for sure what this strange thing is. “