The long-running mystery of whether or not this peculiar prehistoric creature was a vertebrate may finally have an answer.
Known as the Tully Monster after collector Francis Tully who originally discovered its remains back in 1958, this peculiar prehistoric denizen, which lived 307 million years ago in a coastal estuary in what is now northeastern Illinois, has remained notoriously difficult to classify for more than 50 years.
With a long torpedo-shaped body and two eyes set at either end of a horizontal bar attached to its face, the creature’s bizarre appearance was unlike anything else known to science.
It even had a long trunk-like snout protruding from its head with a teeth-filled claw attached to the end of it.
For years, scientists have debated over whether the creature was a vertebrate or an invertebrate, but now thanks to new 3D imaging techniques, one team from Japan may have found the answer that could put this age-old debate to bed once and for all.
“We believe that the mystery of it being an invertebrate or vertebrate has been solved,” said Tomoyuki Mikami who was a researcher at the Graduate School of Science at the University of Tokyo at the time of the study.
“Based on multiple lines of evidence, the vertebrate hypothesis of the Tully monster is untenable.”
“The most important point is that the Tully monster had segmentation in its head region that extended from its body. This characteristic is not known in any vertebrate lineage, suggesting a nonvertebrate affinity.”