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Palaeontology

Scientists discover prehistoric 'mold pigs'

By T.K. Randall
October 14, 2019 · Comment icon 7 comments

Mold pigs are so-named due to their penchant for eating fungi. Image Credit: G. Poinar et al.
A previously unknown species of microscopic creature has been discovered perfectly preserved in amber.
Dating back to the Cenozoic period 30 million years ago, these previously unseen microinvertebrates are not at all dissimilar to today's notoriously tough tardigrades (or 'water bears').

Dubbed Sialomorpha dominicana, the species was discovered in a chunk of amber from the Dominican Republic by palaeobiologist George Poinar Jr. from Oregon State University and invertebrate zoologist Diane Nelson from East Tennessee State University.

They nicknamed it 'mold pig' due to its porcine nature and diet of fungi.
Poinar's work on fossils trapped in amber is particularly notable as his research back in the 1980s was the inspiration behind several of the concepts in Michael Crichton's Jurassic Park.

"It took me many days, weeks, and months to examine [the specimens], and then under the compound microscope," he said of this latest finding.

"They are as small as the smallest tardigrades, and they have eight legs like tardigrades. However they possess mandibles but no claws, whereas tardigrades have claws and stylet mouthparts."

Whether mold pigs were as hardy as today's tardigrades however remains unclear.

Source: Gizmodo | Comments (7)




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Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #1 Posted by Orphalesion 5 years ago
That's awesome, I wonder if they were related/ancestors of tardigrades....?
Comment icon #2 Posted by Jon the frog 5 years ago
Maybe if we scratch a little more we will fond some alive if they are sturdy like tardigrades... look like relatives...
Comment icon #3 Posted by XenoFish 5 years ago
Looks like a brain with legs to me.
Comment icon #4 Posted by Tatetopa 5 years ago
The article said they are similar to tardigrades and mites but a separate group.
Comment icon #5 Posted by Nnicolette 5 years ago
Probably not sturdy enough if they were previously unknown.
Comment icon #6 Posted by Jon the frog 5 years ago
Invertebrate without a hard shell are rarely found in fossil and we have a lot of invertebrate species yet to discover in present day. Of the 2000-4000 new animal species discovered annually, most are invertebrates from remote places.
Comment icon #7 Posted by kel_kel 5 years ago
aww it's kinda cute xD


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