520-million year old Fossil of a Bizarre Balloon Like Animal Discovered in China

This recently discovered fossil is of an ancient marine animal, that lived 520 million years ago. The creature consisted of a rigid, balloon like exoskeleton that was covered in hard, sharp spines. The name of this strange Cambrian-era creature is Nidelric pugio and belongs to the species of life forms known as chancelloriids, which also shared the same hard balloon like exoskeleton.

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Although the fossil bears a similar resemblance to a flattened bird’s nest, rather than an animal, in life it would have appeared to be more spherical or elliptical in stature. The odd appearance of this even stranger looking animal was due to the fossilization process, flattening the creature out.

This one of a kind, strange and unique ancient animal was discovered by a team of Chinese researchers, led by professor Xianguang Hou, from the Yunnan University of China.

The recently discovered fossil was uncovered in Chenngjang, China. The remains share no common similarity to any other living creature, only to similar specimens of their species.The bodies of the Nidelric pugo‘s relatives came in different shapes, including ones that had cylindrical, cone, bag like and flat plate like bodies. These creatures are believed to have sustained themselves by filter feeding, or sucking water into their mouths, the theories of the creatures eating habits are supported by scientists finding no signs of internal organs in the bodies of the fossils they have collected. It is also believed that this species of bizarre animals thrived on the ancient ocean floor, as well as on the shells and skins of other deep-sea Cambrian creatures, by adhering themselves to a location by an ‘anchor’.

The region, in southern China, were the fossil was discovered, offers a plethora of bizarre animal fossils that also share no similarities with any known being that are currently alive today. Many of these specimens have been found with traces of their internal organs, including brains, still intact. Co-author of the study on the Nidelric pugio, Dr. Tom Harvey stated:

“There’s only one fossil of this enigmatic animal after 30 years of collecting by our chinese colleagues at Chengjiang. It is exceptionally rare, but it shows us just how strange and varied the shapes of early animals could be.”

The Cambrian era has proven to be a strange time in Earth’s life, a large portion of the Earth’s surface was covered in water, enabling, nightmare like, marine life to thrive. During that period, life began to boom and fragment into the species of animals we see today, while many other types of animals, such as the Nidelric pugio, died off.

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