Scientists studied over 2,000 specimens from the Chicago Field Museum (CFM) and they discovered the Tully monster is a vertebrate, similar to modern lampreys.
In 1958, a man named Francis Tully found a weird fossil in Illinois. The man took it to the Chicago Field Museum where specialists failed to identify the creature dubbing it “the Tully Monster”. Dr. Eugene Richardson formally described the creature; it lived 300 million years ago and had a small long soft body, like a worm, with three triangular fins on the tail. It also had a funnel-like mouth called proboscis, such as ant eaters and butterflies.
When first studied, there was no reason to think that the throat went down the proboscis and the scientists thought it was a muscular organ used to take food into the mouth, like an elephant. Dr. Richardson named the fossil Tullimonstrum gregarium, but he could not identify the animal’s family. The fossil is very common in the Mazon Creek, but they have also being found in central Illinois.
Victoria McCoy, a Yale graduate, contacted CBS today via e-mail. She and her colleagues from the Field Museum of Chicago, Argonne National Laboratory, and the American Museum of Natural History studied over 2,000 fossils from the CFM. She reported that after various analysis the group of scientists concluded the Tully monster was a vertebrate. Dr. McCoy is a researcher and her investigation focuses on the preservation of tissue in amber with particular interest in the role of resin chemistry on the preservation of cuticle, internal tissues, proteins, and DNA.
“This is important because it confirms our general view that by 300 million years ago, most animals fell within the major groups we know today,” McCoy told CBS News via email. “Also, the group of modern lampreys today is just a remnant of a much larger, more diverse group that existed in the past. By identifying the Tully Monster as a stem lamprey, we are beginning to see the range of diversity that existed in that group.”
The fossil has only been found in the area and the state of Illinois designated the Tully monster as the fossil of the state in 1989. The result of the study help to unveil the mystery behind this creature. However, it’s an ongoing research. There are many things that scientists cannot explain yet.
Source: Illinois State Museum