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The strange creature is still waiting for a definitive classification, since science is not decided regarding this species. Was it vertebrate or invertebrate?
The ‘Tully Monster‘ ( Tullimonstrum gregarium ) is a species of underwater slug with two antennae crowned by eyes and a long trunk ending in a mouthful of sharp teeth. We know that this strange alien- looking sea monster inhabited the depths of Earth some 300 million years ago in the waters that currently make up the state of Illinois (USA). Thousands of fossils exist ; They all belong to a formation called Mazon Creek, but despite extensive research, scientists were unable to reach a consensus regarding their spine.
Since its fossils were first unearthed in 1958, the “Monster of Tully” has therefore defied classification. This strange, narrow-necked, trunk-like creature swam with cuttlefish-like fins located in the tail section. Needless to say, it looked more like a chimera or a fake than any kind of real creature. Clearly, it was very different from any other animal found on Earth. However, it is so.
Now, a new study published in the journal Geobiology carried out by a team of researchers affiliated with various institutions in the USA. USA and Germany has found evidence to suggest that the Tully monster was a vertebrate. In their article, the group describes their work on Raman microspectroscopy of ancient creatures and what they learned about them.
A vertebrate, the closest living relative of which is probably a lamprey. The meticulous and high-tech analysis of the fossils allowed us to establish that the Tully Monster had guts and a rigid rod or notochord (basically, a rudimentary spinal column) that supported its body.
How did you come to this conclusion?
Rather than trying to figure out if the monster Tully was a true vertebrate by doing anatomical studies, the researchers chose to approach the problem from a chemical perspective. They pointed out that invertebrates have chitin in the hardest tissues that help them maintain their shape: chitin is made of long chains of sugar molecules. In contrast, vertebrates have certain types of protein and keratin that make up the collagen found in animals with back bones.
Sample analysis showed evidence that the protein and keratin types of the Tully Monster fossil remains were representative of vertebrates. These findings therefore suggest that it was a vertebrate, although scientists acknowledge that more research is required to make a final confirmation.
Of course, despite the fact that its recreation is quite terrifying – its teeth do not help much – the largest Tully Monster that has been found is only 30 centimeters long.
“It is so different from its modern relatives that we do not know much about how it lived,” said Victoria McCoy, leader of the first work published on this creature in 2016. “It has large eyes and many teeth, so it was probably a predator “.