April 24, 2024

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A 500,000-year-old fossil of a strange creature from the Cambrian period offers evolutionary clues about vertebrates

A 500,000-year-old fossil of a strange creature from the Cambrian period offers evolutionary clues about vertebrates

Sea squirts belong to the sister group of vertebrates, which means they share a common ancestor hundreds of millions of years ago. (Image credit: Magdevski/Getty Images)

A stunningly preserved half-billion-year-old fossil of a strange Cambrian creature could transform our understanding of how a sister group evolved into vertebrates, a new study finds.

The fossil described July 6 in the journal Nature Communicationsis the oldest of its kind and belongs to an ancient type of tutra, Megasiphon thylakos. The discovery answers a fundamental question about what the earliest tulips looked like, filling an important gap in the animal tree of life.