Sunday, 29 April 2012

Mysterious Sea Monster Plant Fossil Baffles Scientists


A mysterious fossil that has evoked images of a sea monster roaming the shallow waters of prehistoric Cincinnati may not be the remains of such a complex life form, but even so scientists are stumped as to what kind of creature (or sea plant) it was.

The researchers, who presented the finding at a Geological Society of America meeting in Dayton, Ohio, say one thing is sure: The enigmatic "blob" — discovered in elliptical pieces that, when fitted together, extended about 7 feet (2.1 meters) long and 3.5 feet (1 meter) wide — was once alive.

The team of scientists, along with the fossil hunter who discovered the 450-million-year-old specimen, suggest a range of possibilities: a type of huge algae or microbial mat, or even a member of the cnidarian family, which includes jellyfish (though scientists concede the jellyfish idea is highly unlikely).

"It's really got us baffled as to just how it looked when alive," David Meyer of the University of Cincinnati geology department told LiveScience. "My initial thought was an algal mat on the sea bottom, and then it got deformed somehow into these funny shapes and then preserved."



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