The record of species that live or lived on our planet grows ever larger as scientists develop new technologies and methods to identify patterns in the evolution of life on Earth.
The sea is undoubtedly the place where more potential discoveries can be made, given that its vast extension and depth still hold hundreds of mysteries that scientists have not been able to decipher.
Scientists had managed to establish that a specific type of non-skeletal coral had disappeared from the planet when it became extinct about 273 million years ago as reported by the fossil record of these animals. These corals grew from the stems of sea lilies on the bottom of the sea.
Scientists claim that other similar species arose later, but there was no record of a symbiotic relationship between them and sea lilies since the Permian-Triassic extinction.
Now, an investigation carried out on the Japanese coasts and led by Mikołaj Zapalski paleontologist of the University of Warsaw in Poland, has managed to find at a depth of 330 feet below the surface, two different species of corals grown from the stems of the Japanese sea lily.
Using microscopes, they managed to photograph and record several specimens, and then they were able to scan the corals in order to evaluate their internal structures and study their DNA to identify the species.
The scientists established that the corals did not compete for food with their host and that they don’t affect their flexibility but were not able to determine what is the benefit that the sea lilies obtained by this relationship with the corals.
It is presumed this type of symbiotic relationship had disappeared from the record because, unlike the old ones, these new specimens found did not modify the structure of the sea lily skeleton and therefore do not leave much evidence of its stay.
“The coral-crinoid associations, characteristic of Palaeozoic benthic communities, disappeared by the end of Permian, and this current work represents the first detailed examination of their rediscovery in modern seas.” Scientists said in a statement.
This discovery changes the historical record of the planet’s seas.