The fossil worm turns
June 25, 2015 4:02 PM   Subscribe

“Finding the head is the main scientific result. There’s been lingering controversy about this.” - A new reconstruction of hallucigenia sparsa answers questions about the shape and orientation of the animal, something that was previously so mysterious that scientists in the 70s had it upside down.
posted by Artw (30 comments total) 20 users marked this as a favorite
 
I do kind of miss the little guy walking on his spikes and waving tentacles in the air.
posted by Artw at 4:10 PM on June 25, 2015 [3 favorites]


I like the bit about how the blob at the end that was mistaken for a head turned out to be poop and guts that got squished out. Because thinking about it, that should be a feature of a lot of soft-body fossils, since those that get preserved tend to be those that had something dumped on top of them at or immediately after death. But I don't think I've ever heard it mentioned before.
posted by tavella at 4:12 PM on June 25, 2015 [2 favorites]


Nope.
posted by Artw at 4:13 PM on June 25, 2015


Local fossils for local people.
posted by oneironaut at 4:18 PM on June 25, 2015 [1 favorite]


Opabinia Remains pretty bonkers.
posted by Artw at 4:20 PM on June 25, 2015 [2 favorites]


something that was previously so mysterious that scientists in the 70s had it upside down

You might even say they were hallucinating.

what no I wasn't headed towards the door why
posted by item at 4:34 PM on June 25, 2015 [4 favorites]


Metafilter: The simple answer is poo.

Seriously, great result. I remember when Gould's book about the Cambrian fauna came out. It was so exciting to imagine the different world we might have inhabited if these lineages had survived. This discovery doesn't really change that, of course, but it does make his postulated world seem a bit more commonplace.
posted by Joe in Australia at 4:42 PM on June 25, 2015 [4 favorites]


So rarely is the phrase "surprise eyes and teeth" positive news.
posted by univac at 4:49 PM on June 25, 2015 [15 favorites]


Artw: Opabinia Remains pretty bonkers.

commonly known as the melodica shrimp
posted by univac at 5:27 PM on June 25, 2015 [3 favorites]


I'd like to see more abstract and possibly anti-climactic reaction GIF memes, you know using pictures like this
posted by sylvanshine at 5:58 PM on June 25, 2015


So rarely is the phrase "surprise eyes and teeth" positive news.

Especially with this testicle-biting fish making the rounds today.
posted by item at 6:22 PM on June 25, 2015 [1 favorite]


SURPRISE
posted by unknowncommand at 6:22 PM on June 25, 2015 [1 favorite]


Awww. I really wanted it to have a blob-head!
posted by mr_roboto at 6:24 PM on June 25, 2015 [1 favorite]


This is our version of dinosaurs having feathers.
posted by Artw at 6:25 PM on June 25, 2015


I've always pictured this thing about the size of a wiener dog strolling about on the Cambrian sea floor, but I guess it was a lot smaller.
posted by lagomorphius at 6:28 PM on June 25, 2015 [2 favorites]


I am just listening to a program on this. It is now mentioning penis worms who can turn their heads ( complete with teeth) inside out to go after prey. It has been a disturbing five minutes.
posted by lesbiassparrow at 6:53 PM on June 25, 2015




Artw: Opabinia Remains pretty bonkers.

commonly known as the melodica shrimp
carrion crawler
posted by FatherDagon at 7:14 PM on June 25, 2015




Hallucigenia is far from the wierdest pre-cambrian animals, and I fully expect it to be flipped over by another breakthrough in microscopy or genomic simulation. My own personal suspicion is that it's evolved to be bi-asymmetrical - it operates one way when tip-toing upon its spines, and another when walking on its CRAB CLAWED TENTACLES A HALF BILLION YEARS AGO... (Paging Howard Phillip to the courtesy phone, Howard Phillip.)
posted by Slap*Happy at 7:29 PM on June 25, 2015 [2 favorites]


I love Hallucigenia so much for its endearing absurdity. It's just so damn weird that it's really hard to fit into everything we know about modern forms of life.

Also, I'd love it if barchan would chime in, if she sees this.
posted by sciatrix at 7:39 PM on June 25, 2015


Double post, but this is important. You want to know if there is any chance of animals as horrible and strange as those before the Cambrian Explosion still existing to and hunt and feed, here, today? Are their hunting and feeding behaviors as horrible as we imagine?

Yes. The answer is yes. And also yes.
posted by Slap*Happy at 7:40 PM on June 25, 2015 [4 favorites]


that fish with the teeth is body horror to the max though
posted by alycoop at 8:34 PM on June 25, 2015


Opabinia is totally the (unofficial?) Lisp mascot. It even has the correct number of eyes.
posted by a car full of lions at 10:40 PM on June 25, 2015 [1 favorite]


You want to know if there is any chance of animals as horrible and strange as those before the Cambrian Explosion still existing to and hunt and feed, here, today?
No need for fancy tentacles and spikes and stuff. Giant flesh-eating leech swallowing huge earthworm like spaghetti
posted by elgilito at 2:35 AM on June 26, 2015


> It was so exciting to imagine the different world we might have inhabited if these lineages had survived.

At least hallucigenia left its mark on the lineage that led to adorable pink plushies. (N.b. for friends of anime, before imgur had its way with it the original filename for this pic, as found by me out there somewhere and downloaded, was Haruhigenia.)
posted by jfuller at 4:42 AM on June 26, 2015


So The Most Interesting Man in the World is also a paleontologist?
posted by hwestiii at 4:53 AM on June 26, 2015


I find it mighty suspicious that this is revealed just as that probe is approaching Pluto or as we say, Yuggoth. Mighty suspicious.
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 6:54 AM on June 26, 2015 [4 favorites]


More of a Yithian, I'd say.
posted by Artw at 6:56 AM on June 26, 2015 [2 favorites]


The genus should be capitalised.

/pedantry
posted by cromagnon at 10:54 AM on June 26, 2015


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