A 99 million year old fossil snail, “contemporary of the dinosaurs” and whose shell has “short, bristly hairs”, was recently discovered, we learned on Tuesday from the Natural History Museum of Colmar (east) where it will be exhibited.
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Prisoner in a piece of amber from Burma, this species, “new for science”, has been baptized “Archaeocyclotus brevivillosus”, indicates in a press release the Alsatian museum.
The shell, which measures 9 mm long and 3.1 mm high, “is notably characterized by short and bristly hairs on its entire periphery”, specifies the museum, which was given this precious fossil l year spent by a collector.
According to a study published in the scientific journal Cretaceous Research, this “hairiness could have constituted multiple selective advantages for these animals and therefore notably favored their exit from the waters towards terrestrial continental environments during the secondary era”, continues the institution. in his press release.
Information which “is not new” but which “corrobates the previous ones: the snails, when they conquered the terrestrial environments, had hairs on their shell”, explains to AFP the malacologist (specialist in molluscs) Jean -Michel Bichain, researcher attached to the museum and one of the authors of the study.
Hairiness which “gave them several advantages”, particularly in terms of thermoregulation or the fight against predators, by promoting camouflage, he continues.
“There are 30 species of snails that are known in Burmese amber,” a fossil resin mined from the Hukawng Valley (northern Burma) that dates back around 99 million years, says Bichain. . This insists on the “extraordinary” character of this amber deposit which “gives a real window on the biodiversity of the era of the dinosaurs”.
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