Saturday, 7 June 2014

Marine animal thought extinct for 4 million years, found living in New Zealand

A marine animal that was thought to have died out four million years ago has been found living in New Zealand.

Called Protulophila, it is a tiny animal, or colonial hydroid, that is related to corals and sea anemones. It forms tiny holes on the tubes of marine worms called serpulids.

Fossil examples of Protulophila were found by scientists in a tubeworm from geologically young rocks, fewer than a million years old. This discovery alerted them to the possibility that the animal, previously unknown outside of Europe and the Middle East, might still be alive today in New Zealand.

They re-examined tubeworms that were collected from the area in 2008, and discovered that they had overlooked living examples of the species.

“Finding living Protulophila is a rare example of how knowledge of fossils has led to the discovery of living biodiversity,” said marine biologist Dr Dennis Gordon from the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research .“It’s very exciting. Our detective work has also suggested the possibility that Protulophila may be the missing polyp stage of a hydroid in which only the tiny planktonic jellyfish stage is known. Many hydroid species have a two-stage life cycle and often the two stages have never been matched. Our discovery may thus mean that we are solving two puzzles at once.” 

No comments:

Post a Comment

You only need to enter your comment once! Comments will appear once they have been moderated. This is so as to stop the would-be comedian who has been spamming the comments here with inane and often offensive remarks. You know who you are!

Related Posts with Thumbnails