A group of researchers has discovered the oldest species of jellyfish recorded to date in fossils dating back 505 million years. The fossils were found in the Burgess Shale, a region in Canada where previously, exceptionally well-preserved fossils have been unearthed.
Dubbed as Burgessomedusa phasmiformis, this new species of jellyfish had a bell-shaped structure and measured about 20 centimeters in height. According to the study published in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B, the species had around 90 short tentacles that would have allowed it to capture relatively large prey.
“Finding such incredibly delicate animals preserved in rock layers on top of these mountains is such a wonderful discovery,” stated Dr. Jean-Bernard Caron, curator of invertebrate paleontology at the Royal Ontario Museum and co-author of the study.
Indeed, finding jellyfish fossils is an exceedingly rare event, regardless of their age. Approximately 95% of a jellyfish’s body is composed of water, and their remains easily decompose upon death, making the discovery of fossils from these creatures a challenging task. Nonetheless, a series of well-preserved fossils were found between the 1980s and 1990s.
With the discovery of this new species of jellyfish, researchers have been able to demonstrate that the food chain during the Cambrian period, the first period of the Paleozoic era, was much more complex than previously believed. “This discovery leaves no doubt that they were swimming around during that time,” affirms Joe Moysiuk, a paleontology student at the University of Toronto and co-author of the study.
Science never ceases to amaze us. Just a few days ago, we shared the incredible news of a group of scientists who managed to resurrect two worms that had been frozen in the Siberian permafrost for the past 46,000 years.
Some of the links added in the article are part of affiliate campaigns and may represent benefits for Softonic.