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Archive for Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Fossil exposes jellyfishes’ real age

Utah find dates sea creatures to 500 million years old

October 31, 2007

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Working together, researchers at the University of Utah and KU have determined that a fossil from more than 500 million years ago is of an ancient jellyfish - one that looks strikingly similar to the jellyfish of modern times.

Working together, researchers at the University of Utah and KU have determined that a fossil from more than 500 million years ago is of an ancient jellyfish - one that looks strikingly similar to the jellyfish of modern times.

A fossil find in the deserts of Utah has provided remarkable clues to Kansas University researchers regarding the history of one aquatic creature.

Working together, researchers at the University of Utah and KU have determined that a fossil from more than 500 million years ago is of an ancient jellyfish - one that looks strikingly similar to the jellyfish of modern times.

Because, historically, fossils of jellyfish have been rare, these fossils are the first indication that the diversity of modern jellyfish species - numbering nearly 2,000 - began 500 million years ago, long before what was originally thought.

"It's rare to get good fossils of jellyfish," said Paulyn Cartwright, an assistant professor of biology and a key researcher on the project. "What's even more rare, though, is to get jellyfish fossils with this much detail, like the tentacles."

The results of the fossil study are being published today in PLoS ONE, an online peer-reviewed journal by the Public Library of Science.

Because of the detail in the fossils, researchers were able to determine that the variations in jellyfish species occurred hundreds of millions of years earlier than could previously be proven. These fossils are about 200 million years older than previous, less complete fossils.

"The fossil record is biased against soft-bodied life forms such as jellyfish because they leave little behind when they die," researcher Bruce Lieberman, a KU professor of geology, said in a statement. "That means that we are still working to solve the evolutionary development of many soft-bodied animals."

In this case, the extra detail was available because of the unusual sediment where the fossils were preserved.

The fossils are being studied at KU, Cartwright said, because of the university's combination of experts in biology and paleontology and its expertise in fossils. Cartwright studies modern jellyfish, while Lieberman focuses on the fossils of soft-bodied organisms.

Once the KU researchers have concluded their studies, the fossils will be packed up and sent back to the natural history museum at the University of Utah, where the researchers who found the fossils are based.

Comments

day 6 years, 10 months ago

The other Lawrence tie in with this story is PLoS ONE. They are a client of Allen Press and their site is hosted right here in Lawrence.

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jfcm77 6 years, 10 months ago

Another tie-in is that Urban Meyer once coached football at the University of Utah. Now he coaches at the University of Florida, a school whose football and basketball teams are both prominent. Lately there has been talk that KU is approaching that status.

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marionlibrarian 6 years, 10 months ago

Another tie-in is that jfcm77 clearly does not understand the meaning of "tie-in." But interesting tidbits, nonetheless.

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gr 6 years, 10 months ago

"have determined that a fossil from more than 500 million years ago is of an ancient jellyfish - one that looks strikingly similar to the jellyfish of modern times."

You mean it hasn't changed much in more than 500 million years! Oh wait. I forget. Evolution predicts this like it does that organisms of low variability can exist for a long time as well as organisms of high variability as well as those in-between. What DOES evolution predict?

Why do these fluff articles always say things like it "began 500 million years ago" with a title talking about age, but never explain anything about why it was determined to be a different age. At least it gives a link.

The link's title doesn't indicate the main point was its age. It reports the fossil was found in the Middle Cambrian Marjum Formation of Utah. Which, I guess, everyone "knows" is about 505 million years old.

The only mention of age was in the abstract implied by the formation it was found in and in the discussion and perhaps implied by the "middle cambrian" of the title. The main point of the article was about the preservation of the jellyfish's structure and comparison to modern taxa. It appears to me the JW article stressed the age more than the link did. And that age is only implied by where it was found. Yes, I know someone's going to come back and say something about that's the beauty of evolution - once something's "established" it never has to be considered again....Has it been?

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jfcm77 6 years, 10 months ago

Andini, the odds are mind-boggling. Go buy a lottery ticket. Right now.

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