If you can not get enough of Tardigraden – these tough, bite sized, microscopic animals with eight curling legs – you'll love this newly discovered microinvertebrate.
See, the "moldy pig".
Paleobiologist and entomologist George Poinar Jr. of Oregon State University discovered mold fungus pigs who, due to their mushroom-heavy diet and vague similarity with pigs [19459004denSpitznamenerhielten]published statement ]. The creatures are only 100 microns long and have four pairs of tiny legs, a flexible head and an exoskeleton that melts when it grows. The Proposed Scientific Name of Small Pigs, Sialomorpha dominicana derives from words that in Greek mean "fat pig-shaped".
"The molds can not be assigned to a group of currently existing invertebrates ̵
Poinar is perhaps best known as the paleo-biologist, who, according to Science Friday inspired an important plot in author Michael Crichton's signature novel "Jurassic Park." Poinar and electron microscopist Roberta Hess (Poinar's wife) discovered that organisms in amber can be perfectly preserved in the fossil resin of ancient coniferous trees. Within the yellowish substance, the cell machinery of an organism can remain largely intact over millennia.
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Inspired by this discovery, Crichton has come up with a world of where dinosaurs lived] could be summoned from amber-clad DNA.
In reality, Poinar has never stopped searching for and discovering new organisms hidden in the old Harz. He and his colleague Diane Nelson from East Tennessee State University recently discovered several hundred amber-covered mold fossils from the Dominican Republic. The specimens date from the middle of the Tertiary, about 30 million years ago, and shared their habitat with pseudoscorpions, nematodes, protozoa and fungi, the authors said.
"The large number of fossils provided additional evidence of their biology, including reproductive behavior, stages of development, and food," Poinar said. The animals fed mainly on mushrooms, but also ate some small invertebrates. Although molds may at first glance resemble Tardigraden according to Poinar, it is a previously unknown new family, genus and species of microinvertebrates. He and Nelson described their discovery in an article published on September 28 in the journal Invertebrate Biology .
"Based on what we know about preserved and extinct microinvertebrates, S. dominicana appears to be a new home," Poinar said. "But we do not know when the line sialomorpha originated, how long it existed or whether there are offspring today."
Originally published on Live Science .