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Scientists have discovered the fossil of an unusual large-bodied 'nude' sea-creature from half a billion years ago.
The creature belongs to an obscure and mysterious group of animals known as the chancelloriids—and scientists are unclear about where they fit in the tree of life.
Lineage - Animals - Cambrian - Explosion - Afterwards
They represent a lineage of spiny tube-shaped animals that arose during the Cambrian evolutionary "explosion" but went extinct soon afterwards. In some ways they resemble sponges, a group of simple filter-feeding animals, but many scientists have dismissed the similarities as superficial.
The new discovery by a team of scientists from the University of Leicester, the University of Oxford and Yunnan University, China, adds new evidence that could help solve the mystery.
Researchers - Findings - Royal - Society - Proceedings
The researchers have published their findings in the Royal Society journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B. The Leicester authors are Tom Harvey, Mark Williams, David Siveter & Sarah Gabbott.
The new species, named Allonnia nuda, was discovered in the Chengjiang deposits of Yunnan Province, China. It was surprisingly large in life (perhaps up to 50 cm or more) but had only a few very tiny spines. Its unusual "naked" appearance suggests that further specimens may be "hiding in plain sight" in fossil collections, and shows that this group was more diverse...
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