This newly discovered creature is only about 100 micrometers long, and aroused a lot of excitement from scientists as it was found trapped in amber dating back about 30 million years ago. . For now, scientists have dubbed it "mold pig" or "pig-mold" in French.
Despite its extremely minute proportions, the discovery of this organism is an extremely rare event, as it reveals the existence of a family, a genus and a species of microinvertebrate until then totally unknown to science.
Moreover, according to the researchers, they began living on the planet about 65 million years ago, and their reign would have lasted more than 63 million years.
Officially named Sialomorpha dominicana, from the Greek words sialo (which roughly translates to "big pig") and morph (meaning form), the creature derives its title from its hairy and fleshy appearance, and from the fact that it feeds mainly on fungi and molds (d where his name).
The authors of the recently published study (and describing the animal), state that this pig-mildew sharing characters with both tardigrades and mites, but obviously does not belong to either of these two groups ". The co-author of the study, George Poinar Jr. explained that: " no claws are present at the end of their legs, contrary to what has been seen in tardigrades and mites (…). We do not know if there are any living descendants today ".
Namely, the researchers discovered hundreds of fossilized specimens in a piece of amber from the Dominican Republic, which allowed them to perform detailed analyzes of various aspects of the anatomy of these pig-mildews.
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In addition, the researchers found that these organisms had four pairs of legs, a flexible head, and that they were able to lose their exoskeleton in order to develop.
The amber analyzed by the scientists also contained pseudoscorpions, nematodes, fungi and protozoa, which gave researchers a fairly good idea of the types of animals pigs-mildew shared their habitat with. Of course, the fact that this newly discovered species is now extinct makes it difficult to study them thoroughly.