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Bizarre Hallucigenia Worm Was No Hallucination

It looked like something that might have been seen by Ringo as he peered out the window of the Yellow Submarine while tripping searching for an octopus’s garden but the Hallucigenia sparsa is no hallucination. New research has confirmed that it’s the ancestor of today’s velvet worms and that the scientists who first discovered may have actually been hallucinating because they pictured it upside down and backwards.

As reported in the journal Nature, researchers at Cambridge University studied Hallucigenia fossils found in the Burgess Shale in Canada’s Rocky Mountains dating back 505 million years to the Cambrian Explosion, a period when most modern animal groups first appeared. When Hallucigenia fossils were first discovered and identified in the 1970s, the spines on its back were thought to be its legs, the legs to be back tentacles and the head and tail were reversed. Well, it WAS the 70’s.

Hallucigen fossils from the Burgess Shale.

Hallucigenia fossils from the Burgess Shale.

The Cambridge group studied the Hallucigenia fossils again and turned everything around. They also studied the claws at the end of the legs and saw that they were layered cuticles stacked one inside of each other in a manner similar to Russian nesting dolls and , more importantly, to the jaws of modern velvet worms, which are actually legs that have evolved for chewing. This is the first solid evidence of a link between the velvet worm and the Hallucigenia, proving it wasn’t a one-hit Cambrian wonder with no descendents.

A velvet worm.

A velvet worm.

In the process of turning the Hallucigenia upside down and discovering its claws, the researchers did the same for some evolutionary theories about arthropods, says study co-author Dr. Javier Ortega-Hernandez.

An exciting outcome of this study is that it turns our current understanding of the evolutionary tree of arthropods — the group including spiders, insects and crustaceans — upside down. Most gene-based studies suggest that arthropods and velvet worms are closely related to each other; however, our results indicate that arthropods are actually closer to water bears, or tardigrades, a group of hardy microscopic animals best known for being able to survive the vacuum of space and sub-zero temperatures — leaving velvet worms as distant cousins.

And you thought spiked worms were only found in mescal.

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  • “a period when most modern animal groups first appeared.” yes Paul
    Seaburn whatever you read from an atheist is true, juz cuz. Stop being a
    gullible idi0t, mor0n. And wow, clearly mysteriousuniverse has been
    hijacked by extremist atheists because oooo, I”m blocked for daring to
    speak against it’s atheist article writing propagandists. MU is nothing
    more than another anti-Christian propaganda platform for atheists, no
    wonder it’s comments are empty for long periods of time. Get lives
    stupid free-thought hating control freak narcissist atheists, get lives
    and quit with the weak mindedness.

  • Ben Tickner

    To me a weak mind is one that needs an Almighty being to hold their hand when they are scared.

  • MitchellF

    “Well it was the ’70’s.” Yeah, human beings have really evolved in the past 40 years!

  • MitchellF

    Wow!! mysteriousuniverse….It is very mysterious how comments just disappear of this site! Where do they go? I guess anything that even questions what you publish on your site is VERBOTEN!!

    “Well, It was the ’70’s”….Yeah, humans have really evolved in the past 40 years!


  • Wendy Collins

    Hi There Mr Conspiracy Theorist!

    Thanks for your valuable input, but, as I suspect you are with most things in your life, you’re incorrect. We do want people to question things. We also manually approve the comments on the site, which is why your incredible insight wasn’t immediately visible.

    By all means, continue shouting into the wind though.