Extinct Animal Found Alive and Well in New Zealand
by Janet Fang
A tiny marine animal that was thought to be extinct for the past four million years has just been found living in New Zealand.
This “living fossil” is tentacled polyp called Protulophila, and they were previously only found in fossil deposits in the northern hemisphere, specifically Europe and the Middle East. Scientists think their history extended back 170 million years into the Middle Jurassic, before they went extinct in the Pliocene; the last trace of them were found in four-million-year-old rocks.
Paleontologists think that Protulophila was a colonial hydroid (resembling a hydra) that’s related to corals and sea anemones. The animal formed a network of channels and microscopic holes inside the chalky tubes of marine worms called serpulids…
(read more: I Fucking Love Science)
Images: Paul Taylor, Natural History Museum, London (top, middle) & Dennis Gordon and Erika MacKay, NIWA (illustration)