Sunday, 10 July 2016
Penis-shaped fossils from Canadian Rockies solve century-old mystery
Paleontologists have finally identified two kinds of mysterious fossils misidentified for a century — and traced them both to some phallus-shaped worms that lived 505 million years ago and built themselves some very elaborate homes.
Key to solving the mystery was an extraordinary new fossil bed discovered just four years ago and insights gained by the scientists through dissecting the rotting carcasses of some modern worms.
In 1911, American paleontologist Charles Walcott collected a fossil of a strange worm called Oesia disjuncta at the Burgess Shale of B.C.'s Yoho National Park, a now world-famous fossil bed that Walcott had discovered two years earlier.
Another unusual find at the Burgess Shale was Margaretia dorus, which paleontologists proposed in 1933 was an extinct, tubular algae.
Researchers have now concluded that Oesia is a relative of penis-shaped marine animals that still exist today, called acorn worms, and Margaretia was a tubular -read more
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