Video | Business Headlines | Internet | Science | Scientific Ethics | Technology | Search

 


Northern-hemisphere fossil discovered living in New Zealand

Northern-hemisphere fossil discovered living in New Zealand

A marine animal thought to have been extinct for four million years has been found alive and well and living near Picton.

Called Protulophila, this new “living fossil” forms a network of tiny holes in the chalky tubes of marine worms called serpulids.

Fossil examples were discovered this year by a group of scientists including NIWA marine biologist Dr Dennis Gordon, Dr Paul Taylor of London’s Natural History Museum and Drs Lee Hsiang Liow, Kjetil Voje and Seabourne Rust of the University of Oslo. The scientists had been conducting fieldwork at Wanganui where they found Protulophila in a tubeworm from geologically young rocks less than a million years old.

This discovery alerted them to the possibility that the animal, previously unknown outside of Europe and the Middle East, might still be alive today in New Zealand.

It was thought to have been extinct for four million years following a long geological history extending back 170 million years into the Middle Jurassic period in Europe.

Scientists then examined tubeworms stored in NIWA’s Wellington-based Invertebrate Collection and discovered examples of preserved Protulophila that had previously been overlooked. The tubeworms had been collected in 2008 in 20 metres of water near Picton.

Finding tiny polyps with tentacles protruding from the network of holes confirmed what paleontologists had suspected, that Protulophila is a colonial hydroid related to corals and sea anemones. It is best seen through a microscope.

According to Dr Gordon, living fossils are animals and plants with long geological histories but which are now rare or uncommon.

“Finding living Protulophila is a rare example of how knowledge of fossils has led to the discovery of living biodiversity,” he said.

“It’s very exciting. Our detective work has also suggested the possibility that Protulophila may be the missing polyp stage of a hydroid in which only the tiny planktonic jellyfish stage is known. Many hydroid species have a two-stage life cycle and often the two stages have never been matched. Our discovery may thus mean that we are solving two puzzles at once.”

The next step will be to collect fresh samples from Queen Charlotte Sound for gene sequencing.

ENDS

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
Business Headlines | Sci-Tech Headlines

 

Fossils: Ancient Penguins Lived Alongside Dinosaurs?

Penguins are much older than previously thought and their evolution probably dates back to the days of the dinosaurs, according to research on the fossilised leg bone and toes of a giant ancient penguin found in rocks near Waipara, North Canterbury. More>>

No Voda/Sky: Commission Declines Clearance For Merger

The Commerce Commission has declined to grant clearance for the proposed merger of Sky Network Television and Vodafone New Zealand. More>>

ALSO:

EARLIER:

Power: IEA Report On New Zealand's Energy System

Outside of its largely low-carbon power sector, managing the economy’s energy intensity and greenhouse gas emissions while still remaining competitive and growing remains a challenge. More>>

ALSO:

NASA: Seven Earth-Size Planets Around A Single Star

NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope has revealed the first known system of seven Earth-size planets around a single star. Three of these planets are firmly located in the habitable zone, the area around the parent star where a rocky planet is most likely to have liquid water. More>>

ALSO:

Auckland Transport Case: Men Guilty Of Corruption And Bribery Will Spend Time In Jail

Two men who were found guilty of corruption and bribery in a Serious Fraud Office (SFO) trial have been sentenced in the Auckland High Court today... The pair are guilty of corruption and bribery offences relating to more than $1 million of bribes which took place between 2005 and 2013 at Rodney District Council and Auckland Transport. More>>

ALSO:

Hager Raid: Westpac Wrong To Release Bank Records To Police

The Privacy Commissioner has censured Westpac Banking Corp for releasing without a court order more than 10 months of bank records belonging to the political activist and journalist Nicky Hager during a police investigation into leaked information published in Hager's 2014 pre-election book, 'Dirty Politics'. More>>

ALSO:

EARLIER:

Get More From Scoop

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Sci-Tech
Search Scoop  
 
 
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news