Browse By

The Strange Animal With The Earliest Muscles

You’re a great big strong animal with muscles all over your body. Your ancestors weren’t always that way, however. They used to move using flagella, or sometimes, they just oozed.

ancient stauromedusaeA new study published today by a group of scientists from Oxford and Cambridge in the UK and St. John’s in Newfoundland describes the earliest known animal to have any muscles at all. It lived 560 million years ago.

The image you see to the right is a reconstruction of what its body looked like when it was alive. It’s pretty strange-looking, right? Who has ever seen a creature like this living today?

extant stauromedusaeActually, many people have. Take a look at the image to the left, a photograph taken of a living animal called a stauromedusae.

Stauromedusae are small cnidarians, members of the same phylum as corals, anemone and jellyfish. Unlike jellyfish, they live most of their lives attached by a stalk to particular surfaces. Unlike coral, they don’t create hard skeletons. They have the same basic body type as these other animals, however: A central chamber surrounded by feeding tentacles. They often live in tidal zones, feeding on tiny bits of organic stuff that is tossed around on the waves.

We don’t have to travel to alien planets in far flung solar systems to find bizarre forms of life. Strange is all around us.

3 thoughts on “The Strange Animal With The Earliest Muscles”

  1. Bill says:

    As a young zoology student I fell in love with cnidarians, and still feel that way. They are among the oldest and most amazing families of animals on Earth. Some, such as Hydra, can reproduce asexually via budding. You can cut them in half and each half will repair itself, producing two clonally identical individuals from one. It is widely held that Hydra are potentially immortal provided they do not succumb to outside insults such as trauma, dehydration, or starvation. In the lab anyway, they just don’t seem to get old and die.

    Somewhere out there, there’s a Hydra who has seen a whole lot of history come and go.

    1. J Clifford says:

      … or stuffed its mouth throughout the course of history, anyway.

      1. Bill says:

        Like many of the rest of us. Please pass the Smart Corn.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Psst... what kind of person doesn't support pacifism?

Fight the Republican beast!