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Did this prehistoric monster have a backbone? Penn wades into debate
““There hasn’t even been agreement which way is up,” said Lauren Sallan, an assistant professor of earth and environmental science at the University of Pennsylvania.
She is talking about the 300-million-year-old Tullimonstrum gregarium, commonly called the Tully monster, a soft-bodied marine creature with a pincers mouth and eyes on the ends of stalks.
Scientists have debated where the weird beast fits into the tree of life ever since its partly fossilized remains were discovered in 1958. Last year, a pair of research teams made waves by announcing that Tully was a vertebrate, with a primitive sort of backbone.
Not so fast, countered Sallan and a team of colleagues from England and France, writing in February in the journal Palaeontology. There is much we do not know about Tully, but the best evidence suggests it is more akin to certain prehistoric mollusks or perhaps early arthropods, whose modern cousins are insects and lobsters, she said. No backbone.” (…) READ MORE
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