Prehistoric mollusk re-created by computer technology

Protobalanus spinicoronatus

From National Geographic:

Prehistoric “Movie Monster” Mollusk Re-created With 3-D Printer

Creature lived about 390 million years ago.

Ker Than

for National Geographic News

Published September 18, 2012

A spiky, well-armored mollusk that lived in the ocean 390 million years ago has been brought back to life with the help of 3-D printers.

Less than an inch long, the oval-shaped creature—a species of so-called multiplacophoran dubbed Protobalanus spinicoronatus—was previously known from only a few rare and incomplete specimens, which made for inaccurate reconstructions.

“The original reconstruction was made where the plates were arranged in a long row, almost like a long worm with 17 plates down its back,” said study co-author Jakob Vinther, a paleontologist at the University of Texas at Austin.

The latest P. spinicoronatus model is based on the most complete known fossil of a multiplacophoran, discovered in 2001 in northern Ohio. Partially covered in rock, the animal’s shell and spikes had become fragmented as it decayed. …

The new model also reveals that P. spinicoronatus was more heavily armored than other mollusks living at the time, and in fact resembled some modern chitons, which live in shallow, exposed environments where there are a lot of predators—as the team believes was the case for the prehistoric mollusk too.

Multiplacophoran’s hunters would likely have included jawed fish and beaked cephalopods similar to squid and octopuses—both of which had recently evolved.

“It was a really exciting time,” Vinther said, “because there was a lot going on.”

The new mollusk model is detailed in the September 18 issue of the journal Paleontology.

See also here.

September 19, Shenzhen, China – An international research team, led by Institute of Oceanology of Chinese Academy of Sciences and BGI, has completed the sequencing, assembly and analysis of Pacific oyster (Crassostrea gigas) genome—the first mollusk genome to be sequenced—that will help to fill a void in our understanding of the species-rich but poorly explored mollusc family. The study, published online today in Nature, reveals the unique adaptations of oysters to highly stressful environment and the complexity mechanism of shell formation: here.

5 thoughts on “Prehistoric mollusk re-created by computer technology

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