Megasiphon Thylacos, a new fossil species of tunicate discovered

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Megasiphon Thylacos, a new fossil species of tunicate discoveredResearchers recently described a new fossil species of tunicate called Megasiphon Thylacos

An Overview of the News

  • The Megasiphon Thylacos fossil is about 500 million years old.

  • The discovery suggests that the modern tunicate body plan was established shortly after the Cambrian explosion.

  • The fossil provides insight into the sedentary, filter-feeding lifestyle of ancestral tunicates and their metamorphosis from tadpole-like larvae.

About Tunicates

  • Tunicates, commonly known as sea squirts, are a group of marine animals.

  • They spend most of their lives attached to surfaces such as docks, rocks or the bottom of a boat.

  • There are about 3,000 species of tunicates in the world's oceans, mainly in shallow water habitats.

  • The evolutionary history of tunicates dates back at least 500 million years.

Tunicate Lineage:

  • Ascidians: Ascidians, often called "sea wasps", are one of the main tunicate lineages.

  • They begin their lives as mobile, tadpole-like larvae.

  • As they mature, they undergo metamorphosis and turn into barrel-shaped adults with two siphons.

  • Ascidians spend their adult lives attached to the ocean floor.

  • Appendicularians: The Appendicularias represent another Angrakha dynasty.

  • They retain their tadpole-like appearance even when they become adults.

  • They float freely in the upper water.

  • They appear to be more distantly related to vertebrates than to ascidians.

Physical Characteristics and Feeding Mechanism:

  • The body of adult tunicates is usually barrel-shaped.

  • They have two siphons coming out of their body.

  • A siphon draws water along with the food particles using suction.

  • The other siphons the filtered water back out.

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