Friday, 5 October 2012

Which Came First, Shells or No Shells? Ancient Mollusk Tells a Contrary Story

ScienceDaily (Oct. 3, 2012) — A fossil unearthed in Great Britain may end a long-running debate about the mollusks, one of life's most diverse invertebrate groups: Which evolved first, shelled forms like clams and snails, or their shell-less, worm-like relatives?

The small new fossil, found in marine rocks along the English-Welsh border, provides the best fossil evidence yet that the simpler worm-like mollusks evolved from their more anatomically complex shelled brethren, rather than the other way around.

The discovery reinforces previous findings from molecular sequencing studies and helps clarify the evolutionary relationships of mollusks, a broad category that includes not only oysters and mussels but also slugs, squids and octopuses.

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