A bizarre con-shaped sea creature was classified by paleontologists. They are known as hyoliths, these marine creatures evolved over 530 million years ago. They are known to be the first to have external skeletons. They were believed to be molluscs but a new study shows that they are more related to brachiopods.
Brachiopods are a group with a rich fossil record, though a few species living today. It has a soft body enclosed between upper and lower shells. It opens its shell at the front when feeding. However, it keeps its shells closed to protect its body parts and feeding apparatus.
The most important study about the cone shaped sea creature was its hyolith feeding structure. It has a flexible tentacles hat extend away from the mouth. The mouth contains cavity between the lower conical shell and upper cap-like shell, Moysiuk said.
It is believed that the cone-shaped sea creatures are feeding by sweeping food into their mouths with their tentacles. According to the CBC, it looks like an alien creature; a cone-shaped sea creature with long arms and tentacles fluttering out of its fleshy opening. However, until now hyoliths didn't have a place on the Earth's tree of life.
According to the Science Daily, Moysiuk and coauthors Martin Smith at Durham University in the United Kingdom, and Jean-Bernard Caron at the Royal Ontario Museum were able to complete the description. They based it mainly on the newly discovered fossils from the renowned Cambrian Burgess Shale in British Columbia.
Funding the research was a Canada Discovery Grant is given to Caron by the Royal Ontario Museum and a Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council. Hyoliths became a stray branch on the tree of life, an embarrassment to paleontologists. Cone-shaped sea creature was classified by paleontologist as a Hyoliths, however, there are a lot more studies to do regarding the classification.