The fossil treasure cove
Researchers from the USA have discovered some ancient molluscs, after looking back at some fossils first found in Morocco in the early 2000s.
Two of these Calvapilosa fossils were in very good condition enabling the team to make a detailed reconstruction. The species has a small mouth filled with hundreds of teeth and a prickly spine, which cover its whole body. They have a hard shell to keep them safe from predators. They may look terrifying but were only four inches long and scientists think they survived by feeding off algae on rocks.
Calvapilosa is a very old relative of modern molluscs. Their ancient relatives first appeared on earth around 520 million years ago. Jakob Vinther, who was the lead researcher on the project, said: “This discovery brings a neat solution to how the ancestor of all molluscs may have looked.”
With an early creature called Wiwaxia known to have had scales and spikes, the researchers go further, making an evolution path in which the common ancestor of all the molluscs bore spines, a single plate, and a radula before a variety of branches emerged, eventually giving rise to molluscs as diverse as snails, clams and slugs.
“Morocco has revealed itself as a fossil treasure trove for ancient life,” said fellow researcher, Van Roy. “It never ceases to amaze me what is discovered there.”
Luke, Year 6