Strange, mushroom-shaped animals have been found in the deep waters just off of Australia. These organisms are so unique that they may begin to rewrite what we’ve come to know about early animal family trees. They cannot yet be classified into any existing animal group, however they do resemble some animals who have long been extinct.
They appear to be small, translucent mushrooms, but they are really very different. The place where a mushroom’s stalk would normally be is a mouth connected to a digestive tract. Yet, these animals are less than an inch long, averaging around just 2 centimeters in length.
Despite their possible resemblance to jellyfish, these organisms cannot swim. The ‘mushroom cap’ of these organisms is inflexible and unlikely to aid in propulsion. It is theorized that they may be free-living organisms that feed on microbes. Without genetic information, it is very difficult for scientists to make any discoveries relating to their animal descendants or relatives. As of now, it is believed they originated from a very early era of animal life similar to sponges and jellyfish.
Until genetic information is available, we’ll just have to guess at what exactly this creature may be.
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