Thursday, 19 June 2014

Sea Creature Believed To Be Extinct Rediscovered In New Zealand

June 18, 2014

Gerard LeBlond for – Your Universe Online

Recently, Dr. Paul Taylor and some colleagues from the Natural History Museum of London found fossilized remains of Protulophila — small hydroids similar to jellyfish — on rocks dated to less than a half-million years ago. These creatures were thought to only be present in the Middle East and Europe, becoming extinct four million years ago. However, a recent discovery in New Zealand has revealed the creature may still exist.

Image Caption: A freshwater hydroid similar
to marine Protulophila specimens found
 off the coast of New Zealand. Credit:
The team analyzed tube worm samples collected from the sea around New Zealand in 2008 and found samples of the organism inside. The Protulophila is a microscopic organism that forms colonies inside sea worms. It first appeared in fossil records about 170 million years ago and its last known existence was found on rocks dating back four million years, according to New Zealand’s National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA).

Dr. Taylor was working on an unrelated project and discovered oval holes in the tube worms, which are a characteristic of the Protulophila. He contacted Dr. Dennis Gordon from the NIWA to have him analyze recent collections of tube worms from New Zealand for evidence of holes.

Apparently the first jar of specimens were full of the tiny creature, but no other jars were found to contain them. Gordon sent the samples to Dr Taylor and a small polyp with tentacles was found, suggesting it was a Protulophila.

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