In late January of this year, archeologists working amongst rocks of the Appalachian Mountains in Pennsylvania identified the fossil of an unknown, ancient, soft-bodied creature. This was remarkable for a variety of reasons, but our interest in it lies solely with its remarkable resemblance to a tiny ice cream cone.
Jan Zalasiewicz, a paleontologist at the University of Leicester’s School of Geography, Geology and the Environment explained that the paleontologists who found the fossil know it lived alongside ancient plankton during the Ordovician era, several hundred million years ago, but most of the fossils from that era have hard outer shells. As a result, almost everything scientists know about life on Earth at this time is based on fossils of creatures that had skeletons.*
The research team responsible for this exceptional discovery hope that the fossil will yield some clues about what types of non-skeleton-bearing creatures existed during the Ordovician time period (which lasted 45 million years, starting 488 million years ago and ending 443 million years ago). “The ancient world of the Ordovician, some 450 million years ago, was one of a huge expansion of life in the seas of our planet,” said Zalasiewicz in a statement.