Tully Monster Mystery Is Not Yet Solved

Posted: Feb 22 2017, 4:11am CST | by , in News | Latest Science News

Tully Monster Mystery is Not Yet Solved
An illustration depicts what Mazon Creek may have looked like 300 million years ago, complete with Tully monsters (the two small swimming creatures), a large shark and a salamander relative. Credit: John Megahan
  • Mystery of Tully the Spineless Ancient Sea Monster is Far From Solved

An ancient marine animal that was monstrous apparently had no spinal cord.

Termed the Tully Monster, an ancient marine beast, that lived 307 million years ago, has the experts all dazed, confused and amazed. It has eyes like a hammerhead shark. Its mouth is like a tweezer.

Some of its other features look like something straight out of a strange children’s book. Scientists don’t know what to make of this beast. They cannot pigeonhole it. In 2016, however, two groups of scientists tried to settle once and for all the taxonomy of this ancient marine life form.

However, and herein lies the rub, they both got it all wrong. They had supposed that it was a marine vertebrate. Yet the beast in actuality possesses no backbone.

The Tully Monster or Tullimonstrum gregarium was a beast without a spinal column. This animal is so strange and bizarre and surreal that categorizing it is a difficult task.

The eyes of the creature are perched atop projections and a nipping mouth is situated at the end of a lengthy snout. There is even some debate as to which way the animal faces (up or down).

It is all these facts that have the researchers absolutely tied up in knots. However, despite appearances, this creature is not a fish. It’s been more than half a century since the first specimen was unearthed from the fossil record.

Myriads more fossils have been recovered since from the subterranean depths. It was originally found in Illinois and has since become the state fossil. Some have dubbed it a worm.

Others have labeled it a gastropod without a shell. There are even those who have judged it to be an arthropod. Besides a primitive notochord, it has gill sacs and teeth that resemble a lamprey. The eyes of this weird creature contain melanin.

On the whole, this curious creature challenges some of the fixed paradigms of science. However, these paradigms could shift anytime based on novel information that challenges past hypotheses.

This in fact is the way science progresses. Nothing is fixed. Everything is open to questioning and a final solution is a concept completely alien to science and the scientific mind.

Ultimately, the Tully Monster defies the imagination and does not fit into our man-made neat little classification peg holes. It resembles the platypus which when seen for the first time was taken to be a hoax by many scientists.

This new report got published in the journal Palaeontology.

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<a href="/latest_stories/all/all/20" rel="author">Sumayah Aamir</a>
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