A enigmatic animal from the Cambrian period had an opening at one end with a circle of brittle spines.
Credit: Derek Siveter / Tom Harvey / Peiyun Cong
A "naked" spongy-like animal without organ and just one opening that lived 500,000 years ago offers convincing new clues about a bizarre group of older beings. 1
The results indicate that chancelorrhoids followed a growth pattern similar to fungi and may have more in common with fungi than previously thought, study co-author Peiyun Cong, professor at Yunnan University in China and Tom Harvey, associate professor at the University of Leicester, UK, told for Live Science in an email. [Cambrian Creatures Gallery: Photos of Primitive Sea Life]
Tubular and spiky
Animals that lived during the Cambrian period half a billion years ago are known to be a little strange. During this time of explosive diversity, many bizarre forms occurred. There were huge shrimp-like predators; marine life that is enclosed in flax pans; filament covered camels; and eyelid swimmer with figure 8 shaped bodies.
The researchers upgraded six fossil copies of A. nuda from a place known to preserve a rich diversity of such Cambodian life – the Chengjiang site in Yunan Province, southern China. The fossils had symmetrical tubular bodies that were tapered to the bottom and had an opening on the top; small upward backs bumped the surface of the creature, and its only opening was circled with a beard-like ring of nails, the authors reported.
Based on the largest test, which was incomplete, the researchers determined that the creature could grow as long as about 20 centimeters. is much larger than its medcristallorides, typically greater than 20 cm long, according to the study.
The scientists soon found that the new species – and the chancellorioridic group – had even more in common with fungi than previous studies had indicated. A. nuda s small, sparse spines offered an unprecedented view of the body of the chancelloroid, emphasizing that their bodies, like fungi, were simple and hollow, with a single opening, Cong and Harvey wrote in the e-mail .
But it also suggests something else – an annular "growth zone" at one end of the animal, where all its new spine would appear. This body growth pattern, known only in some modern fungi, would represent a biological property shared only by fungi and choroidorides, suggesting more complex similarities between the two than previously described, Cong and Harvey said.  Evolutionary Relationships
Chancelloriids and other "Cambrian oddballs" – ancient animals from this period that do not fit into the tree of life – can be puzzling to classify, but they also provide important clues about evolutionary relationships between animal groups. Cong and Harvey told Live Science in an email.
"The fossil is fossil, they show us direct evidence for animals that lived closely in time to major transitions in evolution. It's like a puzzle, with the" odd "fossils equally important, but only more difficult to fit in place, "they said.
For example, two bizarre Cambrian creatures – Anomalocaris and Hallucigenia once seemed impossible to interpret – helped researchers understand how arthropods developed "told about the group's early history as today contains spiders, shrimp and beet, "says Cong and Harvey.
"Over time, hoping that groups like chancelloriids will be as important to reconstruct the earlier stages of animal development, which is a rather difficult prospect," they said.
The results were published online today (June 19) in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B.
Original article about Live Science.