Danish scientists are in festive mood after a Danish fossil hunter found the remains of a 65 million year-old sea urchin said to be the ‘missing link’ in the world of echinoideans.
Sea urchins are found all over the world and are invertebrates with long protective spines that live on the sea floor.
The remarkably well-preserved remains of the ancient urchin were found by fossil hunter Leif Rasmussen in eastern Zealand and despite the millions of years that it has been hidden, has maintained its spines.
“The shape of the spines are used to determine the different types of sea urchins. But the spines on this one did not resemble anything we had seen before,” says Museum Director Jesper Milàn of the Geomuseum Faxe, to whom Ramussen delivered the specimen.
Sent for further study to the National Natural History Museum, sea urchin specialist Søren Bo Andersen confirmed the missing link status of the chalky remains.
“The urchin turned out to be the first known fossil link between two types of well-known urchins - Tylocidaris baltica and Tylocidaris oedumi and as such has great scientific value,” says Andersen.
Tylocidaris is an extinct genus of urchin that lived from the early Crustacean to the Eocene period.
“It’s an extra bonus that this missing link has been found in the year of Darwin,” says Jesper Milàn.
Edited by Julian Isherwood