Colour reconstruction of Hallucigenia
Colour reconstruction of Hallucigenia

Hallucigenia mystery solved: Experts had it upside down

A BIZARRE extinct creature that has mystified scientists since its 500m-year fossil was first unearthed more than a century ago has finally revealed its teeth - placing it centre stage in the evolution of many complex life-forms living today.

Hallucigenia, which owes its name to its unworldly appearance, was so odd that scientists initially confused its top from its bottom and its head from its tail.

However, a study has now unequivocally identified its mouth, complete with a fearsome ring of sharp teeth.

MORE OFFBEAT NEWS

Researchers from the University of Cambridge have also identified a pair of simple eyes on Hallucigenia's head and have determined that it was a close relative of the last common ancestor of everything from tiny velvet roundworms to huge lobsters.

"The early evolutionary history of this huge group is pretty much uncharted. While we know that the animals in this group are united by the fact that they moult, we haven't been able to find many physical characteristics that unite them," said Martin Smith of Cambridge University, the lead author of the study in Nature.

"Prior to our study there was still some uncertainty as to which end of the animal represented the head, and which the tail," Dr Smith said.

"A large balloon-like orb at one end of the specimen was originally thought to be the head, but we can now demonstrate that this actually wasn't part of the body at all, but a dark stain representing decay fluids or gut contents that oozed out as the animal was flattened during burial," he said.

 



3 weird and creepy things you can buy right now

premium_icon 3 weird and creepy things you can buy right now

You can't even imagine some of these bizarre things on sale

PHOTOS: Did you strut your stuff at Casino's fashion night?

premium_icon PHOTOS: Did you strut your stuff at Casino's fashion night?

The Northern Rivers' best fashion was on show at this stylish event

Here's how to get a free lunch today

Here's how to get a free lunch today

Everything tastes better when it's free

Local Partners