According to a new study, the Tully monster may still be holding its fair share of mysteries. The reason behind this belief? The fact that this new research claims that the marine creature was an invertebrate.
The Tully monster is quite a cause of debate amongst scientists. This bizarre marine animal raised its fair share of questions. And one of the biggest mysteries targeted its origin. Last year, two separate research teams claimed to have found an answer. And they classified the Tully monster as a marine vertebrate.
Now, a recently released study claims the opposite. Lauren Sallan was the latest study’s lead researcher. She is an Assistant Professor part of the University of Pennsylvania Department of Earth and Environmental Science.
Research results were released earlier this week. They were published in the Paleontology journal. Available online since February 20th, the paper was titled as follows. “The ‘Tully monster’ is not a vertebrate” characters, convergence and taphonomy in Palaeozoic problematic animals”.
Sallan, the study lead, went to offer details. And according to her, the animal doesn’t fit the vertebrate classification. It is unlikely to fit it due to its weirdness. And Sallan states that the Tully monster could be most anything but a fish.
The Tullimonstrum, on its scientific name, is believed to have lived some 300 million years ago. Only a single species, T. gregarium¸ has ever been found. Specimens were discovered in Illinois. They were found in the Mazon Creek fossil beds.
The Tully monster has been assimilated to everything from a vertebrate to a mollusk, worm, arthropod, or conodont. These interpretations are all based on the discovered fossils. A first such sample was discovered back in 1958. And it has been the cause of debates ever since.
Tully fossils revealed similarities to quite a few other animals. For example, it had hammerhead-like eyes. And also a pincer-like mouth. It had fins like those of a cuttlefish at its body’s tail end. It is believed to have been about 14 inches long. The smallest fossils are about 3.1 inches long.
All of these features and some more make it very hard to classify. The studies released last year pointed out the following facts. One of the teams reported finding a light band going down the midline of the Tully monster. And they argued that it may have been a type of primitive backbone. And they also found internal organ remains, characteristic mostly of vertebrates.
But Sallan and her colleagues argued against these traces. They state that the presupposed remains are not gill sacs. The gill slits are reportedly placed all wrong. And they couldn’t have been used for breathing as they lack gill pouches or tissues.
The current study also dismantles the presupposed liver theory. They do so as they also claim it as being misplaced. Sallan and her team also offered arguments against the other study finds. This placed the Tully monster in the vertebrate class due to some of its eyes’ features.
Still, Sallan declared this as being inconclusive. And according to her, the Tully monster fossils point out two facts. They present features which are not found in vertebrates. And they also lack ones which should have been present had they belonged to this class.
As it is, the Tully monster will most likely continue raising controversies. For example, some scientists agree with a number of the arguments brought by this latest study. But they also point out that, on its own, it does not bring any new evidence.
And both this and the previous studies still present their fair share if debatable points. As such, most scientists agree that Tully will most likely continue being a weird, not totally or fully understood creature. One that will continue generating studies.
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