Fossils could have simply revealed oldest ever recognized jellyfish species

Scientists have made a unprecedented discovery, uncovering the oldest recognized species of swimming jellyfish that lived over 500 million years in the past. This breakthrough gives additional insights into the origins of Earth’s earliest animal species.

The newly recognized species, named Burgessomedusa phasmiformis, belongs to a gaggle of creatures referred to as medusozoans, which incorporates modern-day field jellies, hydroids, and jellyfish.

Researchers, together with specialists from the celebrated Royal Ontario Museum (ROM), made this discovery by analyzing exceptionally well-preserved specimens discovered on the Burgess Shale fossil website in Canada. Most of those fossils had been unearthed within the late Eighties and Nineties.

Contemplating that jellyfish are primarily composed of water, this discovering is especially exceptional.

Based on the researchers, the findings counsel that a few of the anatomical options present in fashionable swimming jellyfish, resembling their distinctive saucer or bell-shaped our bodies, had already developed round 505 million years in the past.

Revealed within the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B, the research examined practically 200 fossilized jellyfish specimens that exposed exceptional particulars of their inside anatomy and tentacles, with some specimens reaching lengths of over 20 centimeters.

Medusozoans are a part of one of many oldest animal teams to have ever existed on Earth, together with corals and sea anemones.

Whereas earlier analysis had uncovered fossilized polyps relationship again to 560 million years in the past, shedding gentle on early coral evolution, the origin of free-swimming medusas or jellyfish has remained elusive.

Based mostly on this new evaluation, scientists imagine that Burgessomedusa phasmiformis would have been able to free-swimming, utilizing their tentacles to seize bigger prey.

“Though jellyfish and their relations are thought of one of many earliest animal teams to have developed, they’ve been extremely tough to establish within the Cambrian fossil report. This discovery leaves little doubt that they had been swimming round throughout that point,” stated co-author Joe Moysiuk.

This analysis additionally means that the meals chain over 500 million years in the past was extra complicated than beforehand believed, with predation not restricted to massive swimming arthropods.

“Discovering such extremely delicate animals preserved in rock layers on these mountains is a really wonderful discover. Burgessomedusa provides to the complexity of Cambrian meals webs,” stated research co-author Jean-Bernard Caron.

“This exceptional lineage of animals preserved within the Burgess Shale additional enriches our understanding of the evolution of life on Earth,” Dr. Caron added.