Ancient critter could be the granddaddy of shellfish
PARIS (AFP) - A weird marine creature that lived 500 million years ago at a time of explosive growth in Earth's biodiversity could be a forerunner of worms and molluscs, a study published today said.
Palaeontologists in China and Europe have taken a second look at fossils of a species called Cotyledion tylodes - a small animal that, when it was identified in 1999, was at first thought to be a cnidarian, or part of a group of jellyfish-like species.
C. tylodes had a goblet-shaped body between eight and 56mm long, with a cup-shaped upper part and lower cylindrical stalk.
On the upper part, the creature's mouth lay adjacent to its anus, with the two organs connected by a U-shaped gut and encircled by a "crown" of foldable tentacles, the scientists found.