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Tully Monster mystery solved

The secrets of the Tully monster, unidentified by scientists since its discovery in the 1950s, are finally revealed

A bizarre mystery fossil is finally identified

Artist's rendition of the Tully monster (Sean McMahon/Yale University)
In the 1950's, a strange fossil emerged from rocks in Illinois, which presented a difficult puzzle to paleontologists.

Dubbed the "Tully Monster" after its discoverer, it was a bizarre sea creature that lived 300 million years ago, with eyes on the ends of a long stalk and an elephant trunk-like proboscis ending in a toothed claw. It looked like nothing else on Earth, past or present. It seemed to fit nowhere on the evolutionary family tree of animals, which was, frankly, a bit of an embarrassment.

Now, new analysis by Dr. Victoria McCoy, a paleontologist and Post-doctoral Fellow at the University of Leicester in England, has revealed that the Tully monster is, in fact, closely related to the lamprey and, despite its more bizarre features, is on the lineage of all creatures with backbones.

Related Links

Paper in Nature
- Yale University release
- The Atlantic story
Science news story