This week in science: mysterious, prehistoric Tully Monster finally identified; two comets to fly close by Earth this week; memories “lost” to early Alzheimer’s may be retrievable, and scientists learn the startling early mortality rates of autistic individuals.
Scientists Finally Solve The Mystery Of The Tully Monster
Fifty-eight years ago, while combing the 307 million-year-old Mazon Creek fossil beds near Chicago, Francis Tully discovered the imprint of a strange creature. The squid-like aquatic beast sported a large, tube-like structure, something akin to a long neck, but not punctuated with a head, only teeth. The Tully Monster had never been seen before, hasn’t been found anywhere else since and could never be identified or even classified.
Until now. According to a paper published in Nature last week, researchers have scanned all available fossil evidence and determined that after 58 years of mystery, this alien creature is a vertebrate, just like us. Well, not just like us — vertebrates are a big, varied group. And the subsection with which the Tully Monster has the most in common includes some of the very strangest vertebrates, namely lampreys.
And if you know anything about lampreys, you know that, while this mystery may be solved, its solution doesn’t make the Tully Monster any less weird. See more at The Guardian.