What is the Mysterious Tully Monster?

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Scientists discovered the remains of an ancient animal so strange, they do not know what to think about it. The Tully monster, or Tullimonstrum as its scientific name, was an ancient animal that lived about 300 million years ago in shallow tropic coasts. It was discovered by Francis Tully in 1955.

The Tully monster was not very large at only around 14″. What makes the animal so interesting is how bizarre it looks. It had eyes that stick way out of the side of its head and, where its mouth would be there is an articulated arm with a pincher.

Image By PaleoEquii – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0

According to one study, the eyes had a camera like structure. It is unclear if the animal had any bones or not, making its relationship in classification uncertain.

The Tully monster inside a fossil cut in half. Image By Ghedoghedo – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0

Now a team thinks they have some of these answers. A team at Stanford University analyzed the eye composition of Tully to see if they could get an idea as to whether it was a vertebrate or invertebrate.

We then analysed the chemistry of Tully’s eyes and the ratio of zinc to copper was more similar to that of invertebrates than vertebrates. This suggests the animal may not have been a vertebrate, contradicting previous efforts to classify it.


We also found that Tully’s eyes contain different type of copper to that found in vertebrate eyes. But the copper also wasn’t identical to that in the invertebrates we studied. So while our work adds weight to the idea that Tully is not a vertebrate, it doesn’t clearly identify it as an invertebrate either.

Livescience.com

It will be interesting to see where the research goes from here!

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