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Natural History Museum in London: Tiny 'living fossil' found in New Zealand waters
This undated handout picture released by the Natural History Museum in London shows a scanning electron microscope photo of the openings of the ‘living fossil’ (Protulophila) in a worm tube. A microscopic marine creature believed to have been extinct for four million years has been found alive and well in New Zealand waters, researchers said on May 29, 2014. AFP PHOTO / PAUL TAYLOR / NATURAL HISTORY MUSEUM.
WELLINGTON (AFP).- A microscopic marine creature believed to have been extinct for four million years has been found alive and well in New Zealand waters, researchers said Thursday.

The animal, a tentacled polyp called protulophila, forms colonies inside sea worms and first appeared in the fossil record about 170 million years ago in Europe and the Middle East, government marine agency NIWA said.

The last trace of it was in rocks that were four million years old, until scientists found the organism in samples from New Zealand, half a world away from its regular habitat, which were formed just one million years ago.

That sent researchers scrambling to check more recent samples and sure enough the polyp turned up in sea worms collected by NIWA in 2008 near Picton, on New Zealand's South Island.

NIWA marine biologist Dennis Gordon said scientific "detective work" involving researchers from NIWA, Britain's Natural History Museum and the University of Oslo was responsible for the discovery.

"Finding living protulophila is a rare example of how knowledge of fossils has led to the discovery of living biodiversity. It's very exciting," he said.

He added that the next stage of research into the creature, which is related to corals and sea anemones, was to find fresh samples for gene sequencing.

© 1994-2014 Agence France-Presse





Today's News

May 30, 2014

Soulages Museum in Rodez opens with more than 500 of the artist's works and documents

Largest ever exhibition organized in Latin America of the work of Salvador Dali opens in Brazil

Natural History Museum in London: Tiny 'living fossil' found in New Zealand waters

Following comprehensive research, National Gallery of Victoria to return its "yes-no" Vincent van Gogh portrait

American writer, poet and activist Maya Angelou's portrait installed at the National Portrait Gallery in Washington

Scientific scans reveal notorious British king Richard III not a 'bunch-backed toad'

Exhibition of landscapes of Barcelona opens at the Museu Picasso in Barcelona

Sotheby's Latin American Art Evening Session totals $15.1 million nearing high estimate

Monumental Civil War objects from the Dr. Michael Stevens Collection come to Heritage Auctions

Specialist tribal & ethnographic fair sets up a new home, re-launches as Tribal Art London

Flannery O'Connor signed and inscribed first editions in Swann Galleries' auction

Previously unknown work of Arnold Odermatt on view at Galerie Springer Berlin

Smithsonian scientists find that vines choke a forest's ability to capture carbon

Leslie Hindman Auctioneers expands to St. Louis

"Versions" videos explore issues of originality and group creativity

Abandon the Parents: Artist Henrik Olesen organizes exhibition at Statens Museum for Kunst

New Museum presents focused presentation of works by Camille Henrot

Tacoma Art Museum presents a dazzling visual experience of contemporary Native America

Fields: Exhibition of new work by Adam Bateman opens at Gildar Gallery

Exhibition of photographs by French writer and photographer Hervé Guibert opens at Callicoon Fine Arts

Bonhams to sell papers of officer imprisoned in Colditz who worked for British Intelligence in WWII

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