Mysterious ‘Alien Goldfish’ May Have Been a Mollusk

Drawing of the alien goldfish
An
artist’s
renditon
of
the “alien
goldfish.”
Scientists
identified
a
toothy
structure
in
the
animal’s
gut,
suggesting
it
was
some
kind
of
mollusk.

Joschua
Knüppe
via

Twitter

Scientists
may
have
finally found
an
explanation
for the
confounding
blob-like
sea
creature
dubbed
an
“alien
goldfish.”
With
no
backbone,
anus,
eyes
or
shell,

Typhloesus
wellsi
 has
stumped
researchers
for
decades. 

“[Typhloesus]
was
sort
of
an
orphan
in
the
tree
of
life,”

Jean-Bernard
Caron
,
curator
of
invertebrate
paleontology
at
the
Royal
Ontario
Museum,
tells
the


Guardian
’s
Nicola
Davis. Since
it
was
first
observed,
experts
have
been
trying
to
place
the
creature
among
its
evolutionary
relatives.

But
in
a
new
study
published
in


Biology
Letters
,
Caron
and
his
colleague,
paleontologist

Simon
Conway
Morris

of
the
University
of
Cambridge
in
England,
describe
the
discovery
of
a
toothy
structure
in
the
animal’s
gut,
which
suggests
the
organism
is
some
kind
of
mollusk.
Modern
mollusks
have
a
similar
toothy
apparatus,
called
a
radula,
which
they
use
to
feed. 

Caron
and
Morris
spotted
the
structure
while
examining
about
a
dozen
specimens
held
at
the
Royal
Ontario
Museum,
many
of
which
had
never
been
analyzed
before,
per
the

Guardian
.
The
toothy
structure
is
about
4
millimeters long
with
two
rows
of
20
triangular
teeth.
It
was
previously
mistaken
for
muscle
tissue,
because
it’s
located
within
the
creature’s
gut,
reports
the


New
York
Times

Jack
Tamisiea. 

The
alien
goldfish
may
have
pushed
the
toothy
tongue
out
of
its
mouth
and
into
the
water
to
catch
prey,
researchers
say.
“An
analogy
here
[is]
the
tongue
of
a
lizard,
for
example,
capturing
an
insect.
It
is
very
quick,
and
it
brings
food
inside
the
mouth,”
Caron
tells
the

Guardian


T.
 wellsi
grew
to
about
3.5
inches
in
length
and
lived
roughly
330
million
years
ago.
The
animal’s

remains
were
discovered

in
Montana’s

Bear
Gulch
Limestone

fossil
deposit
in
the
late
1960s
and
described
in
1973.

Earlier
researchers
identified
tiny
teeth
within
some
of
the
alien
goldfish
fossils,
which
led
them
to
think
the
animal
was
an
extinct
eel-like
fish
called
a

conodont
,
per
the

Times
.
But
after
a
closer
look,
that
theory
fell
flat,
as
the
teeth
were
revealed
to
be
remnants
of T.
wellsi
’s
last
meal,
inside
its
digestive
tract. Now,
the
animal’s
radula
offers
a
new
clue.

“It
is
a
very
exciting
find
to
have
a
radula,
because
that
is
definitive,”
Christopher
Whalen,
an
invertebrate
paleontologist
at
the
American
Museum
of
Natural
History
who
was
not
involved
in
the
new
study,
tells
the

Times
.
“Just
like
how
all
vertebrates
have
a
backbone,
all
mollusks
have
a
radula.”

But
Mark
Purnell
from
the
Centre
for
Palaeobiology
at
the
University
of
Leicester
in
England
tells
the

Guardian

that
many
types
of
animals
independently
evolved
similar
features,
so
more
research
is
needed
to
know
for
sure
if
the
alien
goldfish
is
definitively
a
mollusk.

“It
is
still
a
very
strange
animal,”
Purnell,
who
was
not
involved
with
the
new
paper,
tells
the

Guardian
.
“[The
researchers]
have
found
some
tantalizing
new
information,
but
it
is
far
from
being
a
slam-dunk
case
in
terms
of
definitely
knowing
what
this
weird
thing
is.”

Artikel ini diambil dari https://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/mysterious-alien-goldfish-may-have-been-a-mollusk-180980822/

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