Ancient tulip-shaped marine creature uncovered in Canada

Tulip Fossil

Burgess Shale found in the Canadian Rockies is an ancient fossil bed that has helped professionals unearth several primitive species. Well, this study by scientists from the University of Toronto examines a new marine creature found in Burgess Shale that apparently lived in the oceans approximately 500 million years ago.

The bizarre creature in question seemed to resemble a tulip flower and was as long as 20cm. It has been named officially as Siphusauctum gregarium. Notably, this marine animal appeared to have possessed a unique filter feeding system. It had a long stem with a bulbous cup-like structure called calyx, around the upper surface that enfolds a different kind of gut and filter feeding system.

This animal would presumably have filtered out substances from water that reached its calyx via small holes. A small disc present at the end of the stem would have secured the critter to the seabed. Moreover, this being seemingly lived in big groups, as indicated by the presence of over 65 individual samples.

“Most interesting is that this feeding system appears to be unique among animals. Recent advances have linked many bizarre Burgess Shale animals as primitive members of many animal groups that are found today, but Siphusauctum defies this trend. We do not know where it fits in relation to other organisms,” commented lead author, O’Brien.

The team unraveled these fossils from a new Burgess Shale location in Canada, which is currently carrying the nickname, ‘The Tulip Beds.’ According to the researchers, this discovery has shed light on the complex form of animals which were prevalent during that time span.

The findings are published in the January 18 issue of the journal, PLoS ONE.

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