Researchers finally solve 58-year-old mystery of the bizarre sea creature ‘Tully Monster.’
The Tully monster prehistoric sea creature, lived more than 307 million years ago, has baffled researchers since 1950s.
Top image: A reconstruction illustrating what Tully monster looked like. Credit Sean McMahon via EurekAlert
Called the ‘Tully Monster’ in honor of amateur fossil-hunter Francis Tully, who first found it in Illinois coal-mining pits in 1958.
According to an analysis published in Nature, the Tullimonstrum gregarium, which swam in water some 300-million-years ago, was a vertebrate, and not a segmented worm or a free-swimming slug.
Paleontologist James Lamsdell of the American Museum of Natural History in New York, said:
“I’ve always loved detective work, and in paleontology it doesn’t get much better than this. Our re-study of the specimens has shown that it is a very strange lamprey, a group of eel-like vertebrates that live in rivers and seas today.”
Paul Mayer, from the Field Museum in Chicago, which houses 2,000 Tully Monster specimens, said:
“The monsters are related to the jawless fishes that are still around today by a unique combination of traits, including primitive gills, rows of teeth, and traces of a notochord, the flexible rod-like structure along the back that’s present in chordate animals — including vertebrates like us.”