Megasiphon Thylacos, a new fossil species of tunicate discovered
Researchers 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.
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.
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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