One of the most mysterious and strange-looking prehistoric creatures known as Hallucigenia lived more than 500 million years ago, and until now scientists didn’t know much about it.
The small sea creature lived during the Cambrian period and its fossils were discovered in the 1970s one Burgess Shale in Canada.
When it was first discovered, the scientists couldn’t tell which way the creature walked, or where its head was.
But recently, a team of scientists from the University of Toronto in collaboration with Cambridge University and Royal Ontario has managed to examine the fossilized Hallucigenia using electron microscopy.
The researchers were able to identify the prehistoric creature’s head and tail and also found that it had a pair of eyes and needle teeth.
According to the scientists, the new discovery will help them reconstruct what the creature, which is the ancestor of many species of worms and lobsters, might have looked like.
The researchers published their findings in the journal Nature.
The study revealed that Hallucigenia measured approximately 50 mm long and had a thin, tubular body which was covered in long spikes and tentacle-like appendages.
The scientists used electron microscopes to study the fossils and try to identify the creature’s head.
According to them, they were able to identify its head, which had eyes and teeth, and a strange blob at the end of its tail which turned out to be a piece of feces.
Dr. Martin Smith, researcher at Cambridge University and one of the lead authors of the study, explained that they found a “large balloon-like orb” at the end of the creature’s body which they originally thought it was its head.
But thanks to the new analysis, the researchers discovered that it wasn’t part of the creature’s body, but a dark stain which might have been gut contents that came out of its body when it died.
The researchers said that the new findings will also help them put Hallucigenia on the evolutionary tree.
At first, the experts thought the creature was too strange-looking to have any living ancestors, but the new study suggests it actually belongs to a group called ecdysozoans, which includes some species of spiders and velvet worms.
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