Navigation Links
Strange phallus-shaped creature provides crucial missing link
Date:3/13/2013

This press release is available in French.

Christopher Cameron of the University of Montreal's Department of Biological Sciences and his colleagues have unearthed a major scientific discovery - a strange phallus-shaped creature they found in Canada's Burgess Shale fossil beds, located in Yoho National Park. The fossils were found in an area of shale beds that are 505 million years old.

Their study, to be published online in the journal Nature on March 13, 2013, confirms Spartobranchus tenuis is a member of the acorn worms group which are seldom-seen animals that thrive today in the fine sands and mud of shallow and deeper waters. Acorn worms are themselves part of the hemichordates, a group of marine animals closely related to today's sea stars and sea urchins. "Unlike animals with hard parts including teeth, scales and bones, these worms were soft-bodied, so their fossil record is extremely rare," said author Dr. Chris Cameron of the University of Montreal. "Our description of Spartobranchus tenuis, a creature previously unknown to science, pushes the fossil record of the enteropneusts back 200 million years to the Cambrian period, fundamentally changing our understanding of biodiversity from this period."

Since their discovery in the 19th-century, some of the biggest questions in hemichordate evolution have focused on the group's origins and the relationship between its two main branches: the enteropneusts and the pterobranchs, including graptolites. "One of the big punchlines from my graduate work, was molecular evidence that enteropneusts and pterobranchs are closely related" said Cameron, a specialist on the taxonomy, evolution and biogeography of hemichordates.

"It's astonishing how similar Spartobranchus tenuis fossils are to modern day acorn worms, except that they also formed fibrous tubes." The tubes provide a key missing link that connects the two main hemichordate groups. "The explosive radiation of graptolites in the Paleozoic planktonic ecosystems is known only from the diversity of their tubes. Our findings suggest that the tubes were lost in the lineage leading to modern day enteropneusts, but elaborated on in graptolites and retained to the present day in pterobranchs" added Cameron.

Hemichordates also share many of the same characteristics as chordates a group of animals that includes humans with the name hemichordate roughly translating to 'half a chordate.'

"Work from my lab has shown that enteropneusts filter feed using a pharynx perforated with gill slits, just like the invertebrate chordates" added Cameron. Spartobranchus tenuis probably fed on small particles of matter filtered from the seawater. "There are thousands of specimens at the Walcott Quarry in Yoho National Park, so it's possible Spartobranchus tenuis may have played an important role in moving carbon from the water column to the sediment in the early Burgess Shale environment" said Cameron.

Detailed analysis suggests Spartobranchus tenuis had a flexible body consisting of a short proboscis, collar and narrow elongate trunk terminating in a bulbous structure, which may have served as an anchor. The largest complete specimens examined were 10 centimetres long with the proboscis accounting for about half a centimetre. A large proportion of these worms was preserved in tubes, of which some were branched, suggesting the tubes were used as a dwelling structure.

Other members of the Spartobranchus tenuis research team are lead author Jean-Bernard Caron of the Royal Ontario Museum and Simon Conway Morris of the University of Cambridge.


'/>"/>

Contact: William Raillant-Clark
w.raillant-clark@umontreal.ca
514-343-7593
University of Montreal
Source:Eurekalert  

Related biology news :

1. Strange diet for methane consuming microorganisms
2. It must be important but what does it do? The strange case of UCP2
3. First evidence of ocean acidification affecting live marine creatures in the Southern Ocean
4. Sharks: Bad creatures or bad image?
5. Bigger creatures live longer, travel farther for a reason
6. Acoustic tweezers capture tiny creatures with ultrasound
7. NTU researchers study little mighty creature for scientific breakthrough
8. Early warning system provides 4-month forecast of malaria epidemics in northwest India
9. Illinois town provides a historical foundation for todays bee research
10. Study provides insights into plant evolution
11. A microbial biorefinery provides new insight into how bacteria regulate genes
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
Related Image:
Strange phallus-shaped creature provides crucial missing link
(Date:2/2/2017)... 1, 2017  Central to its deep commitment ... worldwide, The Japan Prize Foundation today announced the ... pushed the envelope in their respective fields of ... scientists are being recognized with the 2017 Japan ... only contribute to the advancement of science and ...
(Date:1/26/2017)... 2017  Acuity Market Intelligence today released the ... Identity".  Acuity characterizes 2017 as a "breakout" year ... reflects a new understanding of the potential benefits ... digital identity are often perceived as threats to ... Principal of Acuity Market intelligence. "However, taken together ...
(Date:1/21/2017)... DUBLIN , Jan 20, 2017 Research ... Recognition Biometrics Market 2017-2021" report to their offering. ... The global voice recognition ... period 2017-2021. The report covers the present scenario ... for 2017-2021. To calculate the market size, the report considers the ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:2/23/2017)... 2017  Seattle,s upscale Capitol Hill neighborhood, with its swanky shops, ... a head lice treatment salon to set up shop. But ... and a French bistro on E Madison Ave, and CEO ... any old lice clinic, we pride ourselves on being a ... some of the stigma associated with lice. Everyone can get ...
(Date:2/23/2017)... Antonio, TX (PRWEB) , ... February 23, 2017 ... ... Drug Administration (FDA) de novo clearance to begin marketing the SPEAC® System, the ... indicated for adults at home or in healthcare facilities during periods of rest. ...
(Date:2/23/2017)... ... February 23, 2017 , ... David Nolte, PhD accepted ... at Purdue Research Park of West Lafayette, Indiana. , The top ... contributions to, and success with, commercializing discoveries from Purdue research. “This award is ...
(Date:2/23/2017)... ... ... The Greater Gift Initiative, Inc , (GGI) a Winston-Salem, NC 501(c)3 non-profit, ... is to advance global health and highlight the greater good of clinical trial participation ... trial volunteer. The vision of GGI is to serve as a philanthropic connector between ...
Breaking Biology Technology: