Weird creature with no anus was not earliest human ancestor
By T.K. Randall
August 17, 2022 · 3 comments
Spot the resemblance ? Image Credit: Philip Donoghue et al
Scientists have determined that this very strange 500 million-year-old creature was not actually related to humans.
Could this handsome gentlemen be one of your ancestors ?
Known as Saccorhytus, this absolutely bizarre creature - which resembles a wrinkly sack with a large mouth and no anus - was once abundant in the oceans 500 million years ago.
While it had been believed that this could in fact be the earliest common ancestor of all humans, new research by scientists in China seems to have now ruled out this possibility.
To study it, the team built up a 3D computer model by taking hundreds of X-rays of its fossil remains.
"Some of the fossils are so perfectly preserved that they look almost alive," said Prof Yunhuan Liu from China's Chang'an University.
Determining exactly which group this peculiar species belonged to, however, was no easy task.
"We considered lots of alternative groups that Saccorhytus might be related to, including the corals, anemones and jellyfish which also have a mouth but no anus," said study co-leader Prof Philip Donoghue from the University of Bristol.
"To resolve the problem our computational analysis compared the anatomy of Saccorhytus with all other living groups of animals, concluding a relationship with the arthropods and their kin, the group to which insects, crabs and roundworms belong."
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