A very odd mollusk that has been nicknamed the “wandering meatloaf” has been studied and it turns out that it has teeth made of a rare iron mineral that was only ever found along rocky coastlines. The mollusk, which is scientifically named Cryptochiton stelleri, has a reddish-brown flat oval-shaped body with a shell and can grow as long as 14 inches (it really does look like a wandering meatloaf).
Since its teeth contain the rare iron mineral santabarbaraite, it can easily grab food from rocks. In fact, this is the first time ever that the mineral has been found in a living organism. In a statement, Derk Joester, who is an associate professor of materials science and engineering at Northwestern University in Illinois, described this mineral in further detail, “[Santabarbaraite] has high water content, which makes it strong with low density. We think this might toughen the teeth without adding a lot of weight.”
The Cryptochiton stelleri is the biggest known chiton species. It is already known that chitons have hard teeth that are attached to a flexible and soft tongue-like radula that helps them to scrape food like algae off of rocks. But nobody had any idea that their teeth contained a rare iron mineral.
Pictures of the Cryptochiton stelleri can be seen here.
In other news – this time it’s an extinct creature – an almost complete dinosaur skeleton has been unearthed in China. The remains, which date back to the Jurassic Period from 199.6 to 145.5 million years ago, were discovered by paleontologists in a 180-million-year-old soil layer in Lufeng, Yunnan Province.
Incredibly, approximately 70% of the dinosaur was found. Wang Tao, who is head of the Dinosaur Fossil Conservation and Research Center of Lufeng City, explained the significance of this discovery, “Such a highly complete dinosaur fossil is a rare find around the world. The fossil can be seen as a national treasure and the discovery will be considered a shocking event in the history of global paleontology if we manage to excavate the fossil's head bones during the next excavation project.”
Based on its thigh and tail bones, it is believed that the dinosaur was a type of Lufengosaurus and that its entire skeleton measured about 8 meters in length (26 feet). A picture of the remains can be seen here.
This wasn’t the only prehistoric remains found in Yunnan Province in recent weeks as the bones of a young dinosaur were discovered and it didn’t belong to any known genus or species. The bones, which consisted of a part of a skull, a complete cervical vertebra, dorsal vertebra, and metacarpal bone, revealed that the dinosaur was approximately 3 years of age when it died. At the time of its death, it measured 1.7 meters (5.6 feet).