COUNCIL CHRONICLE – A new study helped bring back to life, in the form of a highly detailed sculpture, a 500 million years old life form. The reconstruction of this ancient arthropod was resembled either to a deformed clam or a space alien but is nonetheless an important piece of the evolutionary history of our planet.
A team of Lund University scientists is the ones to commission the sculpture, which is part of their new paper.
The Reconstruction of this Ancient Life Form Brings to Life New Details on Evolution
The recently unveiled sculpture is the reconstructed image of an Agnostus pisiformis. This is a currently extinct arthropod that used to live 500 million years ago in the area known nowadays as Scandinavia.
The creature is believed to have been just some four-tenths of an inch. Scientists have been able to accurately reconstruct it thanks to its being almost perfectly preserved in limestone and shale.
“The incredible degree of preservational detail means that we can grasp the entire anatomy of the animal, which, in turn, reveals a lot about its ecology and mode of life,” explains Mats E. Erikson, a geology professor part of the study.
According to the study paper, this life form started out as a larva. Then, by shedding and once again growing its hard exoskeleton a number of times, it reached adulthood. Its body also seems to have been protected by two hard shields, which resembled clam shells as the creature curled up.
The ocean-going lifestyle of this creature is still largely unknown. However, it is believed to have plucked bits of matter, used as a food source, out of the water.
This life form is also being used as an index fossil. Namely, such fossils are believed to have lived only in a particular time period. As such, scientists use them to date earth and sediment layers.
Artists at the 10 Tons studio in Denmark created the highly detailed sculpture of the arthropod. Multiple sculptures were created, each showing this early life form in a different position. The recreations are also larger so that the characteristics of the A. pisiformis can be more easily noticed.
Both the artists and the scientists are hoping that the sculptures will go on display as part of a traveling exhibit which shows the “bizarre animals of the Cambrian seas”. This was a period that marked an explosion in the number of life forms on Earth.
Image Source: Wikimedia