A strange collection of fossils with a secret identity has finally been revealed by a group of scientists, and they are neither plants nor animals. The work was intense until they were identified and the answer was closer than they expected.
For those in a hurry:
- The fossil was long thought to be a fossilized shell.
- In the new research, it has been suggested that it was actually a cystic eugnoid, but no cyst was ever observed;
- After a lot of searching, a video was found on YouTube of it twisting itself into a bag.
For a long time, these fossils were misidentified because of the strange lines or “ribs” that mark their surface, making them look like fingerprints. Without being properly identified, scientists gave it his name PseudoschizophreniaThinking it was a fossilized shell. Now, research published in Review of paleobotany and paleontology Points to a new interpretation.
The researchers suggest that these mysterious fossils are actually euglenoids, a group of single-celled protists. These organisms perform photosynthesis like plants and eat like animals, but in the end they are neither one nor the other. This group of microorganisms is believed to have appeared about a billion years ago, but only a few fossils have survived.
The mysterious fossils are actually encysted eugenoids
Hundreds of articles were analyzed for similar organisms PseudoschizophreniaBut nothing has been found to support the idea of it being a eugnoid. The hypothesis was that they could be encysting, a trick these microorganisms use to survive adverse situations. However, scientists had never observed euglinoids encysting in the laboratory, which prevented them from saying with certainty that this was what was happening.
After analyzing about 500 articles, the answer was found in a YouTube video. Australian microscopy enthusiast Fabian Weston placed water from a lake near New South Wales under the gaze of a microscope, who ended up recording the moment the microscope came into view. Euglena It wrinkled and formed a sac with lines similar to those seen in mysterious fossils.
Inadvertently, Fabian provided important evidence. He may be the only person on the planet who has witnessed the decomposition of a Euglena under a microscope.
Paul Strother, one of the study's authors, said in a statement
With this discovery, it was possible to determine a timeline of euglenoids extending back to about 400 million years ago, opening the possibility of identifying even older specimens.
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