Study sheds light on mysterious eel-like creatures that lived before dinos

October 30th, 2010 - 1:01 pm ICT by ANI  

Washington, Oct 30 (ANI): A new study has shed light on conodonts - a species of eel-like creatures that lived even before dinosaurs - and according to scientists, ate like the creature did in the movie “Alien.”

Conodonts possessed rows of sharp, interlocking cone-shaped teeth that raked prey into their mouths. They first emerged around 500 million years ago and died out just as dinosaurs were beginning to take shape.

“They’re kind of like eels or hagfish or lampreys, but different. They may be close in shape and lifestyle, but it’s not a perfect comparison. That’s like comparing a modern mammal to a dinosaur,” Discovery News quoted Nicole Peavey, a Texas Tech University researcher, as saying.

“Conodonts went extinct at the end of the Triassic Period, about the time dinosaurs were evolving. The group is gone, which makes them very mysterious. They don’t have any living relatives to compare them to,” he added.

In the 1980s, palaeontologists found completely fossilized conodont specimens, and only recently have scientists begun to unravel their secrets.

“No one knew what the animal looked like until fairly recently. They’re a couple inches long, kind of skinny with a complicated set of teeth,” Peavey said.

The teeth would stay hidden until time to strike out at prey. Like shark and dinosaur teeth they would break, but then regenerate.

“We know they were around swimming in the ocean. Some looked like little eels, most have paired teeth at the head end. They lived in all kinds of environments. As far as what they ate, there are a lot of people who would like to know.” (ANI)

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