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Fossil record reveals elusive jellyfish more than 500 million years old
Date:10/30/2007

record, beginning roughly 540 million years ago. The fossil record reveals much less about the origin and early evolution of animals such as jellyfish than it does about animals with hard shells or bones.

The fossil record is biased against soft-bodied life forms such as jellyfish, because they leave little behind when they die, Lieberman said. That means that we are still working to solve the evolutionary development of many soft-bodied animals.

With the discovery of the four different types of jellyfish in the Cambrian, however, the researchers said that there is enough detail to assert that the types can be related to the modern orders and families of jellyfish. The specimens show the same complexity. That means that either the complexity of modern jellyfish developed rapidly roughly 500 million years ago, or that the group is even older and existed long before then.

Cartwright said the jellyfish described in the article are also unique because they push the known occurrence of definitive jellyfish back from 300 million to 505 million years, a huge jump, and show more detail than anything previously described that is younger.


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Contact: Jen Humphrey
jenlynnh@ku.edu
785-864-2344
Public Library of Science
Source:Eurekalert

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